The Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) and the State have been accused of having no real interest in ensuring that small farmers get their fair share of the legal marijuana pie, as pilot cultivation programmes have been allowed to fall by the wayside and emphasis has been placed on heavy regulation.
This sentiment was expressed by Government and Opposition politicians at yesterday's meeting of the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC), which had in attendance senior representatives of the CLA and its parent ministry. The pilot project for cultivation launched in Accompong, St Elizabeth crashed out with the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic, while the one planned for Orange Hill, Westmoreland did not get off the ground due to problems with land access.
Government Member of Parliament for St James Central Heroy Clarke, who has been strident in the call for small farmers to get fair access to the cannabis market, dismissed the point made by chief technical director in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce (MIIC) Michelle Parkins that the pilots were community programmes.
He stressed that once an initiative is spearheaded by Government it becomes a national cause.“Was the agency — the CLA — formed to get us up to international standards, or was it formed to keep us down? Because all that has been done is not to move the industry forward. All that we are getting is how to beat the small man down into the ground. Jamaicans have paid their price in the past and therefore they must get their fair share of it,” Clarke insisted.
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