Big money on ganja - Entertainers encouraged to invest in growing weed business
Following the Jamaican Government's slow move to legalise marijuana locally for mass production and sale, recording artistes are now seeking greener pastures and are taking their business ventures to the US.
In the past few months, at least four reggae acts have gone that route namely Damian 'Jr Gong' Marley, Morgan Heritage, Julian Marley and Raging Fyah.
Bob Marley's son, Julian 'JuJu' Marley, had indicated his desire to get involved in the marijuana business locally. However, despite talks that Jamaica is in the process of setting up a medical marijuana industry, progress has been slow, while sections of the US continue to grow in the potentially billion dollar business.
In early January, the Cannabis Licensing Authority granted conditional approval to three applicants for permits to cultivate and process marijuana.
Two small cultivators will be allowed to grow ganja on less than an acre of land, and a third permit is for the establishment of a small processing facility. The granting of the conditional approval comes nearly nine months after the passing of regulations to facilitate the cultivation of marijuana for medicinal, scientific, and therapeutic purposes.
Dancehall artiste Gage, who admitted to using marijuana, told THE STAR that Jamaica will be shut out of the market due to negligence and complacency. The deejay also believes it is already too late for the island to catch up with some competitors who already have their houses in order.
JAMAICA IS LOSING OUT
"We are not losing out. We have already lost. Our quality is good and this is known worldwide, but we are not handling the business part. I go to Europe and you can buy marijuana like a soda. You can go to a machine, insert your coin and you get marijuana out of it," he said.
"I don't understand what Jamaica is waiting on because if you allow cigarette to be sold, then ganja ought to be sold. Aside from that, wi a miss out."
The deejay, however, expressed that he has no interest in getting involved in the marijuana business. Instead, he said he would prefer to invest in livestock.
Meanwhile, Ninja Man feels the Government is focused on the wrong things.
"Everything that will make Jamaica prosper, they try and stop it. They fight reggae music and they fight ganja, yet they are the two biggest assets Jamaica has. But at the same time, they promote alcohol, which kills the brain cells," he said.
"That is why people who drink liquor always a shake. I feel they are fighting ganja because they don't know how to tax a product that a man can grow in their backyard," he said.
Ninja Man also warned that the island will lose its culture if the Government does not stand up for its people. He also revealed that ganja products are already making their way in the island from overseas.
"You have Lemon Kush, Green Crack, Grape Ape Kush and Sour Diesel, which are from overseas, and dem inna the island a give people headache because our quality natural and better. Same like how we start import lettuce and tomato, a same so dem a go import weed," said Ninja Man, who recently hosted a back-to-school charity initiative in St Mary.
Although the entertainers believe the Government isn't doing enough, former State Minister for Tourism and Entertainment, Damian Crawford, told THE STAR that the Government is faced with several hurdles which limit its decision making process on marijuana production and consumption. Some of these issues, he says, include the ganja-for-gun trade, as well as the fact that the country is not allowed to export the product due to international export laws.
He also encouraged recording artistes to continue lending their brands to US-based marijuana companies, since branding the products as Jamaican may benefit the island when the Government is fully able to flex its arm on ganja.