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Policy analysis and implications of establishing the Caribbean Cannabis Economy (CCE): lessons from Jamaica

Machel Anthony Emanuel (Department of Life Sciences, University of West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica)
Andre Yone Haughton (Department of Economics, University of West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica)
K’adamawe K’nife (Mona School of Business, University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica)

Drugs and Alcohol Today

ISSN: 1745-9265

Article publication date: 26 April 2018

Issue publication date: 30 May 2018




The purpose of this paper is to explore the effects of legislative amendments to the Dangerous Drugs Act in 2015 and the establishment of a Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) in Jamaica as the first Caribbean country to decriminalize cannabis and attempt to establish a medical cannabis industry. The research also attempts to understand the perception of key industry players and interest groups to the existing regulatory framework in Jamaica.


The research reviews local and global trends, the developments in cannabis legislation and conducts questionnaires as well as semi-structured interviews to get feedback from key industry stakeholders and interest groups.


The findings suggest that there is a lack of confidence in the CLA in Jamaica, who are faced with the task of balancing the emerging medical cannabis industry and formalizing the existing illegal cannabis trade. There appears to be inconsistencies and lack of coordination between the associated ministries, departments and agencies. The CLA in Jamaica has established two separate cannabis models that appear to be incoherent in their approach to policy. On the one hand they are regulating cultivation, processing and supply, and on the other hand, the law remains unclear about the purchase or consumption of cannabis and its by-products.

Practical implications

Countries must learn from Jamaica’s experience if they wish to effectively establish a medical cannabis industry and legitimize existing illegal cannabis economic activities. These countries must ensure they tailor fit the approach of their CLAs to minimize any negative perception from industry players. Laws established to facilitate linkages from the cultivation to processing to packaging to transportation to retail must also include clear laws surrounding the purchase and consumption of cannabis. Jamaica has a far way to go and must continue to learn from other countries and states, for example, Holland, Spain and Uruguay, while at the same time learning from itself.


This paper is novel as it addresses the transition of the legislative process in Jamaica. It also serves as lesson for other countries that seek to engage in the development of their cannabis industries.



Emanuel, M.A., Haughton, A.Y. and K’nife, K. (2018), "Policy analysis and implications of establishing the Caribbean Cannabis Economy (CCE): lessons from Jamaica", Drugs and Alcohol Today, Vol. 18 No. 2, pp. 99-107.



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