May 13, 2016
A ganja field
Jermaine Barnaby/Freelance Photographer Claude Sayers, president of The Element Records
Jermaine Barnaby/Freelance Photographer Eaton Evans, CEO of The Element Records

After spending a combined 12 years in prison for drug smuggling, the principals of Fifth Element Records now want to get involved in the legal-ganja business.

In an interesting twist, Eaton Evans and Claude Sayers, whose Fifth Element Records label was once a dominant force on the entertainment scene, have partnered with international investors to apply for a cannabis licence to legally profit from the herb, that is said to be a multi-million dollar underground business.

"We did what we did back then, went on a journey, and did our time for it. It is just interesting to see that the same thing we were sent away for, they are now in the process of legalising. So now The Element is going to turn it into a legal business," Sayers told THE WEEKEND STAR.

Evan and Sayers were extradited to the United States in 2010 after prosecutors there claimed they were members of a network which shipped illegal drugs into the North American country. Both were convicted on ganja-trafficking charges in US federal Court.

Sayers said The Element is partnering with scientists, doctors and researchers, who deal with ganja legally, on an international level.

"We are now putting the infrastructure in place to meet the criteria of the Government."

Last week the board of the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) approved the regulations to guide Jamaica's legal ganja industry. CLA was formed following the passing of the Dangerous Drug (Amendment) Act 2015.

The board is now accepting applications from players hoping to enter the cannabis industry. It has powers to make and oversee the implementation of regulations for licences, permits, and other authorisations for the cultivation, processing, distribution, sale, and transportation of hemp, as well as ganja, for medicinal, scientific and therapeutic purposes.

"The cultivation of ganja holds the key to Jamaica's overall development, whether it be from an education, cultural, medicinal or economical standpoint," said Evans.

"We will be taking elements from the plant to create a whole industry, with the focus on six delivery systems - tablets, gels, drops, oils, edibles and vaporisers. We also plan to branch into the therapeutics aspects of cannabis," Sawyers said.

He added: "The days of smoking herbs on the corner and digging out we hand middle are over."

The Element principals, who are also making a resurgence in the entertainment industry, plan to embark on a cannabis tour in September to educate persons on the benefits of the herb.

"We want to educate persons on the medicinal and economical values of cannabis, and why it is important to embrace it. We, as a people, need to finally understand the real benefits of the herb," Sayers stated.

"What the Government is doing is a positive move in the right direction. Opening up the cannabis industry not just has health benefits, but will reap economical benefits for everyone, because of the trickle-down effect."

He added, "I'm not saying the freeing up of the ganja industry will be a magic wand and everyone will be a millionaire from it. That's not realistic. But I do see the overall benefits, as a whole, to the country."

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