THE FLEDGLING Jamaican medicinal ganja industry is ripe for investment, particularly from members of the Diaspora who stand to potentially derive significant benefits from a homegrown mult-ibillion dollar industry. Raj Khanna, chief investment officer for Stocks and Securities Growth Equity Ltd, says the Jamaican cannabis market is prime for investment. “The regulators have been supportive of Jamaican ownership and now is a good time for investors as the industry will be in a state of rapid growth over the next two years before the companies start going public,” said Khanna. He also said the country’s strong identity with cannabis creates a unique brand
proposition to which no other country can lay claim.
LAW TO PROTECT JAMAICAN OWNERSHIP
When the Dangerous Drugs Act was amended in 2015, paving the way for the creation of a Jamaican medical cannabis industry, a particular clause to the Bill was greeted with both praise and concern. The Government wanted to protect Jamaica’s interest in the burgeoning industry and stipulated that Jamaican ‘ordinarily residents’ must own more than 50 per cent of the company being established. The Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) defines ‘ordinarily residents’ as persons living in Jamaica for three or more years. Members of the industry who praised the clause said it helped protect controlling power
by Jamaicans. Its limitations, however, have been realized as companies courting foreign investment cannot complete their negotiations until they meet the required quota for local investment. This all means there is a need, and potentially lucrative opportunity, for Jamaican investors at home and in the diaspora.
VALUE OF THE INDUSTRY
Jamaica’s medical cannabis industry has held its own over the past four years. The Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) has issued more than 54 licenses and the country’s fourth medical dispensary, Sensi, opened on August 14. To get an idea of potential market value, Epican, the first dispensary in Kingston, is valued at CA$28.5 million according to recent financial declarations by The Green Organic
Dutchman, a Canadian company with a 49 per cent stake in Epican. In an April news article, CEO of Itopia Life Ltd. Blaine Dowdle, estimated the value of the Jamaican cannabis industry at US$250 million. “There’s going to be about two to four market leaders and brand builders,” Khanna pointed out, “and the ones who do it right will strongly associate with cultural identity and inclusion of local farmers, which is why I love what Itopia Life is doing.” Other factors that favour Jamaican medical cannabis companies include ideal growing conditions, more latitude in marketing initiatives (compared to North America), significantly lower production costs with a higher return on investment and the passage of the export bill which will soon be tabled before Parliament. And while Jamaica is considered a ‘ganja country’, only about 14 per cent of the population are active daily users, making the majority of the population potential customers as the industry matures with the growth of medicinal applications.
TIME FOR INVESTMENT
Cannabis businesses remain blacklisted by banks but industry insiders say those days are nearing an end. The USA has begun taking steps to federally legalize cannabis. Once this is done it is expected that cannabis businesses will become sought after clients by the world’s top financial houses.
Modest projections by Grand View Research Inc. value the global cannabis industry at around US$66 billion by 2025. The USA legalizing cannabis at the federal level would almost immediately mobilize the industry for rapid global growth, which puts Jamaica and its investors in an advantageous position. “The industry will be in a state of massive growth over the next two years and now is the time for investors,” added Khanna. “We’ve (Jamaica) passed the ground level and are now strengthening the industry and investors should look to get in now before the industry hits maturity in the next five to six years.”