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SPEAKERS

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SIMON JONES PhD
Clinical Botanist

Simon’s research programme has focused on the challenges of developing medical grade marijuana for use in clinical applications. He has conducted research studies in British Columbia in Canada, Colorado in the US and for the last three years in Jamaica. While administratively based at Writtle University College in the UK, he is working in association with the University of the West Indies and other Jamaican stakeholders to help Jamaican farmers and processors develop the ability to produce standardised medical grade marijuana products.

ABSTRACT

As developed countries and developing countries including Jamaica introduce medical marijuana schemes, there have been significant differences in the business practices underlying the practical implementation of the schemes. Although some of the differences can be attributed to differing interpretations of how medical schemes can be introduced while still meeting international treaty obligations, other differences relate to the degree to which the scheme follows the template of other schemes or the extent to which it has been localised and additionally the categories of products available whether dried bud, oils, concentrates, tinctures or edibles.

In North America medical marijuana schemes were not primarily implemented as ‘health’ interventions, but were a consequence of developments in the political and legal landscapes. In Canada medical marijuana schemes were a result of constitutional court decisions and in the US they were introduced following public ballot initiatives. Similarly in Jamaica Ministers have highlighted the benefits of introducing a medical marijuana scheme as the diversification of the economic base, increased resilience to economic cycles and external shocks, increased foreign exchange earnings, increased employment opportunity, supporting the rights of Rastafarians to practice their faith and the reduction in use of scarce criminal justice resources.

The regulations being introduced in Jamaica would appear to be drawn from schemes implemented in North America with little localisation and impose a significant administrative, infrastructural and financial burden on stakeholders in a developing country, especially in relative terms on small scale cultivators, resulting in a low number of applications in all licence categories. However as in other countries implementing a medical ganja scheme in Jamaica will likely take a number of years with repeated iterations of new and updated regulations covering the whole value chain.