KINGSTON, Jamaica (Wednesday, April 7, 2021) — Reforming the Cannabis industry into one, which earns maximum benefits globally, is the goal of the newly appointed Chair for the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA), LeVaughn Flynn, who assumed the position on February 23.
Flynn, who has written several articles advocating for the cannabis industry, says he believes the industry is at a very interesting point, where there is transformation, and is elated to lead the process that will benefit Jamaicans.
“We’ve seen the rescheduling and reclassification of cannabis by the United Nations and also by the US government, and those things give us the impression that potentially, in another couple years, we could have cannabis legalised at the Federal level in the US; and, when that happens, that completely opens the global free trade for cannabis,” he predicted in a recent interview.
“The big vision [for me] is that the CLA will put all of those things in place, to ensure that when the time comes, we are in a prime position to capitalise on the global market.
“We already have a strong ganja culture. We have the ideal climate and micro conditions to grow very good ganja and, I believe, those are things we need to capitalise on, and use in our favour, to strengthen the industry and to realise the true opportunities that exist,” he posited.
As the Chair, Flynn has placed himself in the shoes of licensed cannabis holders, arguing that, if he was a licencee, he would want the CLA to be a regulator that is efficient, offers efficient processes, and seeks to create an environment that promotes greater commercial activity.
“I believe in authentic and strong stakeholder relationships, and that going forward, there needs to be a strong collaborative effort, between the Authority and the licencees, or to strengthen the collaborative effort between the licencees and the CLA. That’s important because, in preparing for the big vision of being able to capitalise on the global market, we have to do all that we can, to ensure that all the right systems and processes are in place,” the new Chair argued.
For the last four to five years, the focus of the CLA was on regulations, which Flynn notes, will continue to be very important, going forward.
“I strongly believe that there is a real opportunity for combining innovation and efficient processes, going forward, to support the regulatory framework, in order to grow the industry.
“I see the CLA being a driver of growth for the industry, on many levels. I see the CLA and the licencees collaborating on helping to paint the fulsome image of what the local cannabis industry represents,” he said.
“I believe that the CLA and the licencees should be collaborating on identifying the jobs that are available in cannabis processing, the opportunities that are available in cannabis cultivation, and the opportunities that are available in driving real commercial growth for investors, for local farmers, the other local players and for the country as a whole,” the Chairman pointed out.
Flynn added that he has a new strategic vision, which he hopes will find favour with the stakeholders and members of the cannabis industry.
“I look forward to working with everyone. I look forward to meeting with everyone, on a one-to-one basis; coming to where you are, at your facility; building a relationship, based on authentic communication; truly understanding what are the concerns, from both sides; and then finding a middle point, where the licencees, the investors, and the government benefit,” he proposed.
The CLA was established in 2015, under the Dangerous Drugs Amendment Act, with a specific role to establish and regulate Jamaica’s legal ganja and hemp industry.
Its mandate is to: create regulations to guide the development of an orderly legal ganja and hemp industry in Jamaica, for the use of the plant and its by-products for medical, therapeutic, and scientific purposes; ensure that regulations created and activities within the industry are in-keeping with Jamaica’s international obligations; and to issue licences, permits, and authorisation for the handling of hemp and ganja.
The Authority operates a Licensing and Applications Division, as well as an Enforcement and Monitoring Division. Working together, these Divisions aims to ensure that applications are appropriately reviewed and licences issued to qualified applicants, and that licencees are held accountable, in accordance with the terms and conditions of their licences.