Industry Focus: Cannabis Regime in Jamaica

Jamaica passed an amendment to the Dangerous Drugs Act to facilitate the licensing of players in the Cannabis industry and govern other limited use. With the decriminalization of cannabis in Jamaica and the introduction of a regulatory framework, the Firm has seen an uptick in requests for advice on matters concerning the cannabis industry. Various members of our Commercial Transactions, Corporate Governance as well as the Intellectual Property and Product Registration teams have handled matters which touch and concern the regulation of this fairly new industry.

A risk-based type of regulation is used to regulate the sector. Individuals, companies or legal cooperatives can apply for cultivator, processing, transport, retail or research and development licences. The framework is, for now, inward looking which means that purchases and sales must be made within the boundaries of the regulated parties. Applicants are heavily scrutinized and expected to fulfil fit and proper tests to ensure both the principals and prospective employees do not have criminal backgrounds or are otherwise suitable to operate within the sector.

The Firm assists prospective applicants in structuring the companies or co-operatives to be open to equity or debt financing. The current laws require companies to have substantial ownership and control in the hands of a person ordinarily resident in Jamaica. Local trade mark protection is available for cannabis trade marks and the Intellectual Property & Product Registration practice group has marshalled a few marks to registration and advised on the development of international cannabis intellectual property portfolios. A few licences, some provisional, have been issued for cultivation, processing, retail and processing.

The Firm has many linkages within the fairly new industry and has participated in conferences on the industry.

Industry Focus: Cannabis

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