'I see ganja differently now' - Former sceptic now cultivates marijuana
Hanna Farquharson loves getting a 'high' from marijuana, but the bubbly Epican staff member will readily state that she has never smoked a spliff.
"Just by smelling it one will get a high. If I am in the greenhouse all day, by the time I leave at the end of the day, I will feel a bit woozy. It always leaves me feeling happy; so even if you should come work feeling sulky, by the time you leave, you will be all relaxed and calm," she said.
On Tuesday, Farquharson was one of several employees who was busy at work harvesting Epican cannabis farm in the Blue Mountains, St Andrew. Epican is licensed to sell medical-grade marijuana.
"Before I started working here in April, I used to place a stigma on ganja. but now, I am way more educated on the benefits of the plant, and realise that it's really beneficial even when it is not smoked. I once used to think that it was just something that persons abused. But when used in the correct portions, it can be really useful," she said.
The Mavis Bank resident is one of several females who helps to plant ganja on the one-acre property which rubbishes the Jamaican myth that cannabis will not thrive when it is cultivated by a woman.
Also present to participate and oversee the reaping process were members of the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) and Epican's CEO, Karibe McKenzie.
Exactly 940 plants were harvested and will be prepared for drying, trimming, and the separation of the bud and stems.
"Each time we have a harvest, the CLA will have to be present to go through the process ... and ensure that every plant that is tagged is recorded. After the bud and stem are removed, it will be weighed. Everything on the plant will be put to use, though, as they go towards our extraction department and made into oil," McKenzie said.
In addition to the 43,000-square-foot, vertically integrated cultivation facility, Epican also has a 5,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art extraction plant that is able to process and support its own organic cultivation output.
The facility focuses solely on cannabinoid and terpene extraction, identification and formulation for medical purposes within the Jamaican market.
Epican's seed-to-sale cannabis retail store is located in Market Place on Constant Spring Road.
"It takes about four months from seed to harvest, but we have everything on a cycle now, so we harvest once per month. We have 10 greenhouses, and every plant is traced from that seed is planted, and every plant is assigned a barcode and number. There are cameras everywhere, but there are no real risks of theft really. We do give profit-sharing to everyone who works here; so for those who want to smoke we give them enough so there is no need for them to head in that direction," he said.