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2021

Jamaica faces marijuana shortage dubbing it a ‘cultural embarrassment’

HEAVY rain and drought have contributed to Jamaica’s “worst ever” marijuana shortage – with locals calling it a “national embarrassment”.

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HEAVY rain and drought have contributed to Jamaica’s “worst ever” marijuana shortage – with locals calling it a “national embarrassment”.

Activists say they believe the Covid-19 pandemic and a loosening of Jamaica’s marijuana laws has led to a huge increase in local consumption. A brokerage firm for the island nation’s small but growing legal cannabis industry says a rise in usage during lockdown has led to supplies running low. The 2020 hurricane season and a devastating drought also caused tens of thousands of pounds in losses, according to farmers who cultivate cannabis outside the legal system – where a majority of people still buy the drug for cheap on the street. Chief opportunity explorer at Tacaya, Triston Thompson, also said Covid rules have also stopped farmers tending crops after they were ravaged by a bad season last year.

“Last year was the worst year. We’ve never had this amount of loss,” Thompson said.

“It’s something so laughable that cannabis is short in Jamaica. It’s a cultural embarrassment.”

In Jamaica the drug has been decriminalised in small amounts – vut much of the market remains illegal.

The governments Cannabis Licensing Authority – which has authorised 29 cultivators and issued 73 licenses – said there is no shortage of marijuana in the regulated industry. But farmers and activists say weed sold via legal “herb houses” is out of reach for many – because it costs five to 10 times more than pot on the street. This comes on top of a sharp decline in ganja-seeking tourists heading to the island in search of the drug.

Paul Burke, CEO of Jamaica’s Ganja Growers and Producers Association, said users are now not afraid of being prosecuted now the government allows possession of small amounts. He said the stigma associated with cannabis has diminished, with more people using the drug during the Covid-19 pandemic for its alleged therapeutic and medicinal benefits.mBurke also said that some traditional small farmers have stopped growing as they can’t afford to meet requirements for the legal market. Meanwhile, police are continuing to waste and destroy what Burke described as “good” ganja fields that are not included in the legal market.

This comes on top of a sharp decline in ganja-seeking tourists heading to the island in search of the drug.

Paul Burke, CEO of Jamaica’s Ganja Growers and Producers Association, said users are now not afraid of being prosecuted now the government allows possession of small amounts.

He said the stigma associated with cannabis has diminished, with more people using the drug during the Covid-19 pandemic for its alleged therapeutic and medicinal benefits.

Burke also said that some traditional small farmers have stopped growing as they can’t afford to meet requirements for the legal market.

Meanwhile, police are continuing to waste and destroy what Burke described as “good” ganja fields that are not included in the legal market.

Jamaica, which foreigners have long associated with pot, reggae and Rastafarians, authorized a regulated medical marijuana industry and decriminalised small amounts of the drug in 2015.

People caught with 2 ounces (56 grams) or less of cannabis are liabel to pay a small fine and face no arrest or criminal record.

The island also allows individuals to cultivate up to five plants, and Rastafarians are legally allowed to smoke cannabis for sacramental purposes.

Source: The Sun

Image:

Shutterstock, Adobe Stock

By Michael

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2021

Brexit blow to the cannabis seed industry

There have been several reports from within the UK cannabis community over the last few weeks that seed packages from European distributors and seed banks are arriving with their contents, phone number, and email address clearly visible on the outside of the package.

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The start of this year brought with it a continuation of the on-going global Covid-19 pandemic and a whole heap of new Brexit regulations and rules for the UK to try and understand.

There have been several reports from within the UK cannabis community over the last few weeks that seed packages from European distributors and seed banks are arriving with their contents, phone number, and email address clearly visible on the outside of the package.

The reason for the change is all to do with how Brexit is affecting importation rules. As the UK has now left the European Union market – the single largest trading block in the world. We no longer benefit from the free movement of goods within the EU. Consequently, goods imported to the UK now have to follow additional regulations including packaging, customs, and importation rules that mean that the contents must clearly be labeled on the invoice attached to the package.

A few wholesalers are reporting having packages seized at the border with one being told that “if you want your box you’ll have to go to court”. This has meant that several of the big seed banks have now announced that they will be stopping deliveries to the UK until the issue is resolved.

During my investigation for this blog, I was made aware of another potentially huge negative consequence of Brexit on the UK cannabis industry. Namely, changes to the rules that govern importing cannabis and hemp seeds.

The cannabis seed industry has been able to function in the UK for decades as seeds have been designated as ‘souvenirs’ and ‘collectibles’. It is the act of germination and cultivating the seed that breaks the law. This has given the cannabis seed industry a nice gray-area to operate and grow into a rather robust and profitable industry.

As the rules stand today, all plants or plant products (including seeds) that cross an international border must be accompanied by a valid Phytosanitary certificate. This is to ensure that they have been inspected and contain no pests or diseases. This inspection and sign off must be complete in the origin country within 14 days of importation.

It is not yet fully clear if these regulations will include cannabis seeds. I can however tell you that from the correspondences that I have seen from various companies to the Animal and Plant Health Authority (APHA) and other agencies – they do not have a clue what is going on.

Although there are many UK-based seed banks, they typically get their bulk wholesale seeds from European breeders and distributors in countries like Spain and Switzerland. This means that there may very well be seed shortages here in the UK this year.

Post-Brexit the UK has to decide how to regulate the commercial sale of cannabis seeds. It is clear from conversations that I have had with some seed companies that these regulations have not been considered by the British government when agreeing to the 11th-hour deal. This gives us the golden opportunity to design a framework that protects an industry that so many jobs are dependent on.

Freedom Seeds, a Portsmouth-based seed bank issued a public statement a few days ago stating that would have to cease giving away free seeds with orders. This is due to having a shipment of wholesale seeds seized by UK customs.

A UK seed company that I spoke to has been getting around this by getting their seeds imported with other goods that are the only thing declared on the invoice – which is possibly Illegal and highly unsustainable for a legitimate company.

Another method for procuring seeds post-Brexit could be to fly over to Europe and bring them back personally, however, this could incur additional taxes or import fees and still require a Phytosanitary certificate.

All this comes on the back of a multi-million Euro raid on POT SISTEMAK SL group, the organization that produces seeds for La Mota, Dinafem, and Humboldt seeds were hit by Operation Inxer-Toro. The Spanish Medicines Agency (AEDM) ordered the Guardia civil and the tax authority to conduct an operation to stop the company’s activities in the region – culminating in the raids last September.

We are not criminals. We buy seeds and we sell them. We have been doing this for 21 years. We are one of the most important seed banks in Spain and Europe and we distribute more than a hundred brands. We are obliged to be audited because we have a turnover of more than ten million euros and they have never taken anything out, we pay our taxes every year, we go to international fairs around the world whole to exhibit our seeds for 17 years… All we ask is justice” – One of the arrest managers at POT SISTEMAK SL Group

11 cannabis grow facilities are reported to of been dismantled as part of the operation. Along with the seizure of an estimated 20 million cannabis seeds that have an estimated value of 100 million Euros.

The combination of this raid and Brexit could prove to be fatal to some seed banks and breeders around the world that have relied on the up until now relaxed attitude of Spanish authorities to produce the seeds of many of the cultivars that have now become everyday household names.

Regardless of your politics, this new post-Brexit era that we find ourselves in is going to take quite some time to adjust to. So stock up on your favourite strain and start making friends with people that supply cuttings!

Written by Simpa for TheSimpaLife.com

Image: By Denys Rudyi

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No more seeds to sow? By Psy-23

Over the past few decades, Dinafem and Humboldt Seeds have become widely applauded for their tireless efforts to bring a multitude of seeds to the masses.

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Over the past few decades, Dinafem and Humboldt Seeds have become widely applauded for their tireless efforts to bring a multitude of seeds to the masses.

Countless strains have ushered forth from their hallowed halls over the years, winning them fans the world over for their trusted genetics and consistent results.

Frequently praised for their outstanding feminized and autoflowering seeds, these seedbanks have become synonymous with high quality seeds at fair prices and this has led to them being recognized as some of the best in the game.Incredibly, everything came to an unexpected and catastrophic dead-end in mid-September and there’s still no sign of a solution almost two months

Weed World were contacted just after our last issue went to print by representatives of Pot Sistemak S.L., a global company who specialize in the sale and distribution of seeds, grains and other agriculture related products, who are the parent company of Dinafem, Humboldt and various other companies. In the press release they issued, they outlined that as of September 16th of 2020 they have found themselves under judicial investigation by the Spanish authorities. At the time of writing, the exact details of the investigation are still relatively opaque but the main focus seems to be the prevention of any future sale of cannabis seeds to any retailers and providers. While the investigation is ongoing all of the company’s finances have been frozen.

The impact of this on the community obviously has the potential to be huge as there will be no avenue for stores and retailers to resupply once their stocks are diminished. Furthermore, almost all of the nearly 100-strong team have been temporarily suspended from their roles at Pot Sistemak S.L. at a time when the global economy and jobs market is taking a huge hit from the impact of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. As if that wasn’t bad enough, they have also been forced to suspend all laboratory testing and research into cannabis, including their work with the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) where they were working with esteemed colleagues across multiple specialist fields. This means a significant delay for future progress in their various research fields, which is a bitter pill to swallow for all of us.

Legal teams are working night and day in an effort to unpick all of the various points of this judicial intervention. To the best of our knowledge, there have been multiple arrests made in relation to this investigation and the authorities have seized somewhere in the region of 20 million seeds along with freezing funds and assets associated with those at Pot Sistemak S.L.. In spite of the fact that the sale of seeds is not classed as illegal under the provisions of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the entire case seems to be built around demonizing those involved in the sale of seeds.

The range of accusations is staggering and some of those accused now find themselves facing charges of crimes against public health, money laundering, electricity fraud and running a criminal organization. The police also seized more than two thousand seedlings from producers who are accused of ‘supplying’ the criminal organization.

As you would expect, this has been a crushing blow for all of the individuals involved and it has been a traumatizing experience for them to suddenly find themselves targeted by the authorities after more than 21 years of operating with full transparency. Many other companies have expressed their concerns that this action may just be the tip of the iceberg and it begs the question of what comes next in this assault on the industry.

When you consider the ever-expanding and increasing level of revenue and taxation which is pouring into and out of the cannabis market, it’s surprising to see this kind of action taking place. By their own admission, Pot Sistemak S.L. has put more than 2 million Euros back into the country through taxation last year alone and as their efforts continue to expand they were projected to be even more significant contributors in the coming years.Unsurprisingly, this blatant attack on some of the foremost seed banks in the world has sent shockwaves through the entire industry. Many others in the industry recognize Dinafem’s stellar work and ethics and see this attack as an assault on the whole of the Spanish cannabis industry.

The big question now is what happens next? Is this ‘big fish’ going to be the first of many or a ‘trophy kill’ to display for years to come? Are smaller suppliers, seed banks and retailers going to find themselves squirming under the microscope in the near future and, if so, what’s the endgame of all this? Some people hypothesize that this is all part of a much bigger chess game which will lead to ‘apparent legalization’ under incredibly restrictive government control.

If this is the case then there’s no real way of knowing what this means for the future of seed banks as we know them and the wider implications for the global community could be far-reaching. Reports indicate that there are already some tentative steps towards an industry which ignores those who have built it from the ground-up in favor of new companies with close ties to the government.

Some of these include companies involved in phytopharmaceuticals who have already managed to secure contracts that allow them to export cannabis-derived products to other countries. With this in mind, it’s outrageous to see well-established companies being put under excessive scrutiny.

At the time of writing, accessing the official websites for Dinafem leads users to be greeted by a banner explaining that all sales are frozen and nothing can be purchased. Only time will tell how long this saga continues.

Whatever happens, it’s certainly a worrying time for all involved and our thoughts and best wishes go out to all those affected by this terrible news. We’ll keep you posted as we know more.

Written and Published By Psy-23 In Weed World Magazine Issue 149

Image: Adobe Stock, Isabella Mendes

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