The Government of Jamaica has reiterated that it will be relying significantly on the establishment of a legalized marijuana and hemp industry to achieve the level of economic growth it has set itself.
"Jamaica cannot afford to miss this boat. Where there is no vision the people perish so we must change our mindset and get ready for success. We must be bold while ensuring we meet all of our international obligations," Finance Minister Audley Shaw, declared while opening the 2016/17 Budget Debate in Parliament on Thursday.
In that regard, he said he would be leading by example in his own constituency of Manchester North Eastern, taking steps to prepare farmers for their legitimate involvement in the industry and to establish extraction facilities to process and create value-added products.
"We will build an industry in Jamaica where we process and manufacture value-added products and not export raw materials. This is about an opportunity for small farmers who will now earn from land which is presently sitting idle," he said.
This, he said, was important to Jamaica's Tourism industry "where Jamaica will be positioned as the medical tourism capital for the world bringing Health and wellness to the world."
Jamaica is uniquely positioned, he added, to play a leading role in the medical marijuana industry.
Accordingly, he said the country "must move with a sense of urgency and turn ganja which has been a negative for Jamaica into a major asset creating wealth for our country."
Pointing overseas, he said the American market for legal marijuana is predicted to rise from US$6.7 billion in 2016 to US$21.8 billion by 2020.
"Canada has built a major industry which is opening up for full legalization next year. The Dutch ministry of Health is exporting medical marijuana to Canada, Italy, Germany and the Czech Republic. Israel which is the largest recipient of United Sates aid has over 12,000 medical marijuana patients and is leading the world in research on medical marijuana," he elaborated.