Jamaica has unveiled plans to become a medical cannabis tourism hotspot by tapping into to its rich cultivation heritage and sunny climate.

Floyd Green, the Minister of State for Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, said the Caribbean nation already boasts a guaranteed formula for success.

“We can create more facilities where patients while being treated, experience the beauty of Jamaica with the most fitting climate, the best people, the best service and, of course, the best cannabis,” said Green. “That is our competitive advantage in the global space.”

Cannabis was first introduced to Jamaica in the 1850s. It was imported from iIndia during the British rule of both nations, and it flourished in the warm Caribbean climate.

Many people see Jamaica as the spiritual home of marijuana culture due to its strong Rastafarian community and its iconic strains. It was always a major cultivator of illicit marijuana, but it decriminalized cannabis in 2015.

Jamaicans can now cultivate up to five plants at home, and possession of up to 2 ounces is now considered a petty offence, with the Rastafari can use cannabis for religious purposes.

In March 2018, the first medical cannabis dispensary opened on the island, and six months later the country completed its first legal export of cannabis oil to Canada. It is now planning to position itself as a tourism destination for medicinal cannabis treatment and wellness.

Local producer Apollon has teamed up with health and wellness resort Doc’s Place to establish a cannabis tourism area in Negril. Green praised this venture and said Jamaica is well placed to expand its efforts in this sector.

Green reported that Jamaica’s formative medicinal cannabis industry is taking shape. As at Sep. 30, 2019, it had issued 47 licences for cannabis businesses, including cultivation, retail, processing, research, development and transportation, while 12 applicants are in the final stages of secures a licence. A further 250 applications are currently at the conditional approval stage.

The Bureau of Standards Jamaica has completed consultations on draft legislation called Jamaican Code of Practice for Processing and Handling of Medical Cannabis Products and the Draft Jamaican Standard Guide for Packaging and Labelling of Resin Cannabis Products.

It wants to export medical marijuana around the world, but the U.S. is standing in its way. Jamaican banks have corresponding banks in the U.S., which are federally regulated, and they would end the agreement if the Jamaican bank is engaged in any activity that is illegal under U.S. federal law, which includes selling cannabis.

Jamaica has been reluctant to roll out a regulated export market, as it does not want to upset the U.S. government, which it relies on for trade and tourism, and it is lobbying the U.S. to relax its stance on marijuana.

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