Jamaica: Government Moves At Snail’s Pace On Cannabis Legalization

Authored by: Barry Gainsburg PA

Providing legal counsel to the cannabis & securities industries

Greetings all. Over the US Presidential Inauguration I spent some wonderful family time in Jamaica. It was a great time to be away from the the Continental 48 and the circus in DC.

My aim for today is simply to discuss some anecdotal developments regarding the implementation of a legal medical ganja industry in Jamaica.

Currently, there is a sense of great frustration, on and off the Island, regarding the pace of moving Jamaica forward in the global Ganja Industry. As I have said on more than one occasion, Jamaica is and should remain the Jerusalem of Ganja. However, it appears the island’s Government is doing everything within its power to sabotage its own efforts. It seems it seeks to be the Gaza of Marijuana.

In 2015 there was great elation and celebration that accompanied Jamaica’s Amendment to the Dangerous Drugs Act. The Halcyon days. But since that time, the Government, which has undergone a change of ruling parties in February 2016 – Peoples National Party – (PNP – A Socialist Leaning Philosophy where members refer to each other as Comrades) to the Jamaican Labour Party (JLP – A more “proper” Capitalistic and Conservative Philosophy). Disclaimer – I am a member of Neither Party, Nor do I seek to be at any time. This transation has stymied the forward progress that was previously made under the direction of Mark Golding, the former Minister of Justice.

Everything has now been turned sideways.

Some of my local contacts have informed me  that they no longer have the capital to maintain an ongoing ganja business, nor the desire, Tragic.

Such planning was made with an uncertain time table of implementation and regulation of the legal medical ganja industry in Jamaica. Some have been paying leases, paying utilities, paying employees and in some instance making “donations” or in Jamaica “over the table” payments.

Many were made to PNP personnel and now there are new hands out looking to be greased with the JLP now in power I have been told in private conversations. So in effect, once you have bought the “love” of one party, they leave and now the romance starts all over again with the new suitor. Not a happy group of people. People on the ground have been taking note of these corruption issues

I had been informed by several colleagues that the the granting of Conditional Licenses by The Cannabis Licensing Authority (“CLA”) was to begin in November 2016 and then December and so on and so on. Here we are almost in February. Hurry up and wait!

It is my understanding that there have been discussions about Mandatory Seed-to- Sale Tracking Systems to comply with International Norms.

In fact I was informed from a CLA member that a RFI would be held in December 2016, and I believe a few had been contacted but there was no official notice of such published or promoted by the CLA that I am aware of.

Nor am I aware if anyone else without inside contacts was really aware of such. Legislating in secret never results in policy that is favorable to anyone.

After discussions with  contacts and colleagues, it seems that there is a prevailing consensus that Seed-to-Sale tracking will not be required for smaller operations that cater to the locals or tourists. From a technological and reality perspective it is difficult to put such in effect in the Hills where “good” – fast and reliable internet service – is not available.

A possible solution is to allow the Jamaican Farmers to sell their ganja crops in the context of Island wide Cooperatives for reasons of unity, protection and advancement. At this point Seed-To Sale Tracking would be implemented. So, any group that will be engaging in serious commercial dealings with the product will have to use Seed to Sale Tracking to comply with International Requirements and Protocols.


Now Full DisclosureI am working with Kind Financial and Agrisoft to help bring Microsoft Level Protection to an industry that has recently seen the hacking of a industry competitor – MJ Freeway – which may cripple that companies future position in the government and commercial cannabis seed-to-sale tracking sector. And I won’t even address the well known issues surrounding BioTrackTHC and its alleged (mis)management in the seed-to-sale space.

Once these issues are addressed, than exportation – which will really be the generator of income to help lift Jamaica off of the IMF dependency train can commence. Just like pharmaceuticals or even fruits, the batches of ganja produced can be recorded in a chain of custody so that the government can receive its taxes , and  public safety can be monitored and enforced to ensure lack of illegal activity from within and from outside of the legally regulated medical ganja industry.

An audit trail so to speak.


My final point should hit home sweet home. That point is that Cayman has just legalized medical ganja in oil extract form to be imported into the country since there is no provision or desire for ganja cultivation in Cayman. So is there any country in the Caribbean that could export such extracted oil? Well, Canada and Israel have announced there intent to enter the global cannabis export market. Both countries have been at the forefront of research and advocacy in promoting medical use of cannabis. Sounds like a slam dunk for Jamaica – but as the saying goes – he who hesitates loses. It seems that Jamaica, to many’s great dismay, is full of hesitancy.

Please feel free to reach out to me at Gainsburg@bellsouth.net or visit my website at www.barrygainsburg.com if you have any other legal issues involving the cannabis industry. I am here to serve the cannabis community through Barry Gainsburg, P.A. and Jah, Ganja & Reggae Limited (“JGR”).

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Matt Maurer – Minden Gross
Jeff Hergot – Wildboer Dellelce LLP

Costa Rica
Tim Morales – The Cannabis Industry Association Costa Rica

Elvin Rodríguez Fabilena


Julie Godard
Carl L Rowley -Thompson Coburn LLP

Jerry Chesler – Chesler Consulting

Ian Stewart – Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP
Otis Felder – Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP
Lance Rogers – Greenspoon Marder – San Diego
Jessica McElfresh -McElfresh Law – San Diego
Tracy Gallegos – Partner – Fox Rothschild

Adam Detsky – Knight Nicastro
Dave Rodman – Dave Rodman Law Group
Peter Fendel – CMR Real Estate Network
Nate Reed – CMR Real Estate Network

Matthew Ginder – Greenspoon Marder
David C. Kotler – Cohen Kotler

William Bogot – Fox Rothschild

Valerio Romano, Attorney – VGR Law Firm, PC

Neal Gidvani – Snr Assoc: Greenspoon Marder
Phillip Silvestri – Snr Assoc: Greenspoon Marder

Tracy Gallegos – Associate Fox Rothschild

New Jersey

Matthew G. Miller – MG Miller Intellectual Property Law LLC
Daniel T. McKillop – Scarinci Hollenbeck, LLC

New York
Gregory J. Ryan, Esq. Tesser, Ryan & Rochman, LLP
Tim Nolen Tesser, Ryan & Rochman, LLP
Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP

Paul Loney & Kristie Cromwell – Loney Law Group
William Stewart – Half Baked Labs

Andrew B. Sacks – Managing Partner Sacks Weston Diamond
William Roark – Principal Hamburg, Rubin, Mullin, Maxwell & Lupin
Joshua Horn – Partner Fox Rothschild

Washington DC
Teddy Eynon – Partner Fox Rothschild