Welcome to CanEx Jamaica 2018 Run Down.
Opening day started with a bang with Montel Williams. Technically, it started with CanEx founder, Douglas Gordon, but due to an ongoing series of miscommunication, we didn’t arrive in time.
Full confession, I never followed Montel too closely, but that man has a story. Many stories, actually. His is the most powerful journey of someone being helped by medicinal cannabis I’ve come across to date. In short (way short) due to the pain he endured after coming down with Multiple Sclerosis, he sank into an opioid addiction that threatened to kill him.
On the advice of a forward-thinking doctor, he turned his life around and found a new mission: be a champion for cannabis and cannabis-derived medicinals. He’s served the community well and continues to inspire.
As I navigated the day’s content making connections and learning about this new-to-me industry, I was floored by the benefits of cannabis, and not just for our bodies. Turns out hemp is an outstanding electrical conductor and a key additive for biodegradable plastics and papers. On the more permanent side of the fence, it’s the perfect foundation for cement products. In short, the cannabis plant is suprisingly versatile.
The green plant produces many compounds known as cannabinoids. The most well known at the moment is probably CBD, but there are many more to be researched. CBD is only the beginning, and like most cannabinoids, it will not get you high.
The panel consisted of Archival McDonald, Hon Lascelles Chin, and Henry Munoz Vallejo.
It turns out Columbia is leading the way for economic policy designed to foster cannabis growth with an emphasis on supporting the small farmer. Who knew?
A number of Rastafarian’s in the audience made for a lively Q and A on how Jamaica can do something similar. The small farms are marginalized and the process for obtaining the necessary licenses is prohibitively expensive and complicated.
While the government is getting on board with the benefits of legal cannabis and derivatives, it’s a difficult transition to make. Rumor had it that a number of the small farmers were raided while they were at a cannabis event by invitation.
Add to all this the foreign investors clamoring to get skin in the Jamaica game and it’s a potentially explosive mix. The farmers are understandably leery. Especially those with little or no business experience. These people have been taken advantage of before, both by their own respective governments and by foreigners, and they aren’t looking to go there again.
I have to say, I was impressed by a number of Rastafarians who spoke. They had clearly taken the time to educate themselves and knew what they were talking about.
The US is dragging its heals on legalization which is causing both problems and opportunities. As Bruce Linton of Canopy Growth put it, right now the US not being in the game gives everyone else a chance to get ahead. When the US catches up, and it will, it will be a game changer. It’s just the way it is. But for now, go and get things done.
From what I can see, the US has a split personality on the topic. It appears they’re finally (OK, eventually…soon. Ish.) going to relax their regulations on CBD based products. But, they’re also shutting down banking accounts for anyone even marginally involved with cannabis. And I do mean marginally. I met the founders of a brilliant product called Undoo. This is a benign mix of supplements that will bring you down if you’ve overindulged. There is nothing related to cannabis in the product and they had their bank account closed.
Ex-President of Mexico, Vicente Fox, gave a great Keynote with interesting insights to the fear held by government authorities and the potential of assisting thousands by taking cannabis out of the hands of the criminals and into those of responsible players. That’s a lovely sentiment which I’m sure the drug cartels are thrilled with. Time will tell.
Overall positive, they did touch on women’s struggle with equality in the cannabis space. No surprise there. California is issuing grow licenses to members of the black and Latino communities who were unfairly persecuted during our War on Drugs. This has as much room for hazard as it does potential. These men need to be trained and guided in proper business practice, not just tossed to the wind with license in hand.
The rest of the convention was full of networking, learning, and fascinating conversations from people across the globe.
As with cryptocurrency and blockchain (my other passion) the cannabis space is in early days and full of growing pains. Ha. Pun intended. And, as with crypto and blockchain, I believe there is tremendous opportunity for investment here. Do your research. Get involved and enjoy the ride.