The Star (Jamaica)
GANJA INVESTOR BURNT
Gov’t body destroys 1,000 high-grade herb plants
More than 1,000 highgrade ganja plants were yesterday destroyed by the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) during an operation at the Epican farm in Guava Ridge, East Rural St Andrew.
Karibe McKenzie, CEO and cofounder of Epican, watched with mournful eyes as two agents from the CLA ensured that four greenhouses filled with several strains of the herb were left nearly bare. The cannabis plants which were destroyed were planted between January to March, a period in which Epican’s cultivation licences was not yet renewed. The company, at the time, was granted a three-month extension on its licences until its application for renewal was considered.
“We have been fighting them on the destruction of the plants since March up until now, and it’s taken many turns, going different departments, getting the ministers of the industry involved, getting the ministry of agriculture involved, and at the end of all of that, this is still the stance of the CLA,” McKenzie said.
The marijuana farm has 10 greenhouses that represents, according to McKenzie, ‘millions and millions of dollars’ in cost to cultivate the decriminalized plant.
The destruction yesterday comes weeks after the CLA said that there has been an increased demand for local cannabis in the global market space, as buyers from various countries seek to acquire the product for medicinal and research purposes.
McKenzie, who has witnessed the increase in demand for local cannabis, said the CLA’s actions has left him feeling gutted.
“It’s extremely disheartening to know that we are in a new and striving industry, and after three years, going on four years of experience in this industry, they can’t find a better solution to this problem,” he reasoned.
The CLA decided to destroy Epican plants after the company was deemed to be in breach of one of the terms in the extended cultivation licence that they received last January. The company was given a threemonth extension to reapply for its cultivation licences. However, because it cultivated new plants during the extension period, the CLA viewed it as a breach and decided to remove them.
Farm manage Lloyd Whilby said the plants destroyed were intended to supply a majority of the products that are sold in its Kingston branch.
“When all a these plants dead now, it nah come back until January before we can have plants fi reap again,” Whilby said. “Them a leave back five plants from each strain fi start up back cloning with so a that we a guh use fi restart the house them.”
LeVaughn Flynn, chairman of the CLA, told THE STAR that Epican was in breach of the regulation that prohibits the cultivation of cannabis during the extension period on the license.
“It must also be noted that, as is customary, the Authority would have advised the licensee in question of the terms and conditions and parameters by which they must abide during the period of the extension,” Flynn said.