The Beckley Foundation, in partnership with the Jamaican Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Industry, Investment & Commerce, has organised a two-day conference entitled “Jamaica’s Regulated Cannabis Industry: First Steps” taking place in Negril on November 13 and 14, 2015, to coincide with the inaugural Rastafari RootzFest and World Cannabis Cup 2015. Following recent changes in Jamaican law to decriminalise cannabis and develop a regulated medical cannabis industry, Amanda Feilding, Founder and Director of the Beckley Foundation, was invited by Mark Golding, Jamaican Minister of Justice, to advise him and the government in their formation of balanced policies.
At the conference, Amanda Feilding will discuss Jamaica’s pioneering journey to regulation and the challenges that the nation will face going forward. She will also present some of the ground-breaking scientific research possibilities that have opened up. Presentations will be also be made by the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Industry, Investment & Commerce, as well as distinguished presenters from the Cannabis Licensing Authority, Attorney’s General’s Chambers, the University of the West Indies, the Bureau of Standards Jamaica Ltd., Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), and the Ministry of Tourism & Entertainment. The Rastafarian perspective will be presented by First Man, Chairman of the Rastafarian Council.
On being appointed special advisor to the Jamaican Government, Amanda Feilding said:
“It is an honour to be working with the Jamaican Government on this vital issue. Jamaica could become a model for the world.”
On the recent cannabis policy developments in Jamaica, she said:
“After over 100 years of prohibition, the Rastafari and the many Jamaicans who use ganja for its spiritual and medicinal properties are finally having their voices heard. Jamaica is set to become a global hub for research, enabling the medicinal use of cannabis to flourish.”
Amanda Feilding has committed her support and that of the Beckley Foundation to assisting the Ministry of Justice and other relevant Jamaican authorities towards the formulation of a balanced policy for the regulation of the cannabis industry in Jamaica. In confirming their role, Minister Golding stated:
“The Ministry of Justice of the Government of Jamaica welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with the Beckley Foundation, which has developed a reputation over many years as a pioneering organisation dedicated to improving national and global drug policies through evidence-based scientific research and analysis.”
The Beckley Foundation is particularly interested in seeking out and developing the traditional Jamaican Cannabis sativa strains which have almost disappeared as a result of illicit market pressures. Having visited cultivations grown by traditional Jamaican farmers, Amanda Feilding is even more keen to help develop the regulatory framework which would encourage the organic cultivation of the heirloom strains by traditional Rastafari farmers.
Amanda Feilding added:
“This is an exciting opportunity for Jamaica to become a haven for the respect of human rights, well-being, and religious freedom, and to set an example of how Government, Academia, and supporting institutions can work together to achieve real change.”
With 17 years of experience at the front-line of drug policy reform and numerous scientific studies, the Beckley Foundation will assist Jamaica’s government by advising and providing feedback on global drug policy issues, assisting in helping set up the key elements necessary for a successfully-regulated industry, and interacting with medical research and product development. Amanda Feilding will draw on her experience of advising members of the governments of various countries, including Guatemala, Mexico, and Ireland.
Since 1998, Amanda and the Beckley Foundation have produced ground-breaking research toward cannabis policy reform, recognising the need for action since cannabis comprises approximately 80% of illicit drug use. In 2006, she launched the Beckley Foundation’s Global Cannabis Commission, which led to the seminal report ‘Cannabis Policy: Moving Beyond Stalemate’ – the report was highly influential in influencing policy reform in the USA and around the world. In 2012, she commissioned the Beckley report: ‘Licensing and Regulation of the Cannabis Market in England and Wales – Towards a Cost-Benefit Analysis’, which was used as the basis for a HM Treasury report in October 2015 showing that the net benefit of a regulated and taxed cannabis market to the UK government could be conservatively estimated at £1.25bn annually.