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The matter of Jamaica importing cannabis from Canada

"Jamaica importing cannabis from Canada to introduce to the Jamaican market does sound bizarre. But, in a world where global trade is essential for development, the issue isn't really about Jamaica importing cannabis. The uproar reflects the deep dissatisfaction with our inability to create more revenue opportunities from our own resources," says LeVaughn Flynn in a recent column in Jamaica Observer.

The new medical cannabis industry provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity — economic enablement with social development. It's what attracted a rush of foreign direct investments to the island between 2015 and 2018. With its unique brand position, Jamaica has the capacity to own a segment of the global medical cannabis industry thanks to its strong cultural influence through reggae and Rastafari. But the opportunities have been scarce, and the process is sometimes painful. So, for the public to hear that Jamaica is importing cannabis from Canada, which does not allow imports of commercial quantities in its own country, has left many feeling dispirited.

It's important to note Jamaica has been actively exporting cannabis since 2018, with more than 200 export permits granted for approximately ten countries for both cannabis flower and oil. So, generally, Jamaica's medical cannabis trade has been reciprocal. The emotional spark, however, is the fact that Canada only permits small import quantities for research, testing, or start-up material. It does not allow commercial-quantity imports in order to protect its own industry.

In addition, the theory of Canada offloading cannabis in Jamaica isn't far-fetched. According to cannabis news outlet, in 2021, Canadian companies were forced to destroy 425 million grams, or 468 tons, of dried cannabis flower due to overproduction and quality concerns. This represented 26 percent of total production as Canadian companies have been grappling with over-forecasting. Worse yet, another reputable cannabis news outlet,, reports that at the current trend, Canadian cannabis businesses may destroy around 33 percent of their crop in 2023.

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