US firm offers to assist Jamaican cannabis market

DENVER, (CMC) – A communications and marketing firm here says it is ready to provide services to the “newly-minted” Jamaican cannabis market.

Cannabis Global Initiative (CGI) says it is now offering a “full suite of services” to assist companies wanting to be among the first to do legal cannabis business in the Caribbean, and has opened a second office in Jamaica’s capital – Kingston.

“We work with businesses, municipalities, policymakers, and other cannabis-related entities in local, national, and international markets,” CGI said.

“Our team is highly specialised in all aspects of cannabis and have expert inside knowledge and experience on the regulatory framework which can be customised for most municipalities,” it added.

Since 2009, CGI said it has worked to bring regulation, decriminalisation and retail sales to Colorado, and has been “at the forefront of creating the laws and regulation surrounding medicinal, edible and now legal cannabis”.

“With the opening of its second office and CGI’s longstanding relationships with the Jamaican Government, policy stakeholders and the growing community, CGI is prepared to advise companies with placing their products and/or services in the first Caribbean country to legalise marijuana for medicinal use,” the statement said.

TessMaria Leon, Director of Client Services for CGI’s Caribbean team, heads CGI’s Kingston office.

“We’ve created a robust offering to ensure the best companies are being represented and positioned correctly to do business in the Caribbean,” said CGI President Wanda James.

Last month, the Jamaican Parliament gave the green light to the amendments of the Dangerous Drugs Act to make possession of two ounces or less of marijuana a non-arrestable, ticketable offence that attracts no criminal record.

The Bill also provides for the creation of a Cannabis Licensing Authority, which will be responsible for developing the regulations governing the medical marijuana industry.

Courtesy of The Jamaica Gleaner

Jamaican government votes to decriminalize marijuana, set up medicinal pot system

Irie, mon!
Ganja is now decriminalized in Jamaica after the Caribbean island’s Parliament voted to lessen the penalty for those caught with two ounces or less of marijuana.

The Jamaica government will also establish a “cannabis licensing authority” for medicinal marijuana on the island, where its music and even Rastafarian religion has been influenced by weed for decades.

The 4,200-square-mile island is one of the largest pot suppliers to the United States and surrounding Caribbean islands, with approximately 37,000 acres dedicated to pot farming, according to Vocativ.

But Jamaica’s national security minister said the new amendment wouldn’t change restrictions on trafficking.

“The passage of this legislation does not create a free-for-all in the growing, transporting, selling or exporting of ganja,” Peter Bunting said in Parliament. “The security forces will continue to rigorously enforce Jamaican law consistent with our international treaty obligations.”

More than 20 states in the U.S. already allow medical marijuana, while three other states — Colorado, Washington and Alaska — have legalized pot for adults to use recreationally.

In Jamaica, possession of up to 2 ounces is decriminalized, as is up to five plants. Tourists with medical marijuana cards who visit the island will be allowed to apply for a permit to buy pot.

“This is a big step in the right direction, but there’s still a lot of work to do,” Delano Seiveright, director of the Cannabis Commercial and Medicinal Taskforce, told The Associated Press.

Courtesy of NY Daily News

West Indies’ Chris Gayle scores first double century at Cricket World Cup

West Indies opener Chris Gayle became the first batsman to score a World Cup double century when he made 215 against Zimbabwe in a Pool B clash in Canberra.

Gayle, who might have been given out lbw before he had scored, brought up his first double century in 226 one-day internationals off just 138 balls including nine fours and 16 sixes.
The 35-year-old Jamaica left-hander’s innings of 215 surpassed the previous World Cup best of 188 not out by South Africa’s Gary Kirsten against the United Arab Emirates at Rawalpindi in 1996.

Gayle was eventually off off the last ball of the innings, having faced 147 balls, with 10 fours and 16 sixes with his team on 372-2.
His tally of sixes equalled the record for the most in an ODI innings held jointly by South Africa’s AB de Villiers and India’s Rohit Sharma.
Gayle’s innings was also only the fifth double century in all one-day international cricket and the first by a non-Indian, with Sharma (two), Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag the only other batsmen to achieve the feat.

Gayle and Marlon Samuels, who scored 133 not out himself, also set a new partnership record for any ODI wicket.
Their unbroken stand of 371 surpassed the 331 shared by India’s Rahul Dravid and Tendulkar against New Zealand at Hyderabad (Deccan) in 1999 and took the West Indies to a huge total of 372 for two at Canberra’s Manuka Oval.

Courtesy of The Telegraph

Strong support for Diaspora Conference in western Ja

There is strong public and private sector support from western Jamaica for the sixth staging of the Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference, scheduled for June 13 and 18 at the Montego Bay Convention Centre.

President of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI) Nathan Robb has thrown the support of the business sector behind the event.

“The last one was indeed very, very encouraging from many points of view in terms of the prospects that it held, not just for the Diaspora, but for Jamaicans. And so this sixth biennial, I would say is even more significant because it is in fact building on what we have already accomplished. The chamber of commerce therefore, as we did the last time, truly endorse the biennial conference,” Robb declared.

Deputy Mayor of Montego Bay Michael Troupe also expressed the St James Parish Council’s support for the event.

Troupe announced that the council will be arranging an entertainment event, especially for attendees to the conference.

“We are eager to participate in this event and are ready and proud to be the hosting city. We believe that occasions like these form the foundation for stronger bonding opportunities for our citizens,” he said.

“Aside from formalities that form part of the structure of the event, we are making plans to host a Diaspora Night Out, an event that will form part of our entertainment offering.”

Both Robb and Troupe were speaking at the sixth Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference western region stakeholder briefing held at the Hilton Rose Hall Resorts and Spa on Monday.

Guest speaker, Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Arnaldo Brown said he was hopeful that this year’s staging of the event will surpass the success of the 2013 event.

“Twenty thirteen was a resounding success. We had over 1,500 participants involved in the conference and this year we are hoping to increase those numbers by 500,” he said confidently.

He added that of the 2,000 targeted participants this year, at least 50 per cent of them are expected to come from the Diaspora.

Courtesy of Jamaica Observer

WADA chief heaps praise on Jamaica’s anti-doping efforts

KINGSTON, JAMAICA — The president of the World Anti-Doping Agency said Tuesday he is “hugely impressed” by Jamaica’s efforts to establish an effective drug-testing program on the Caribbean island that is home to many of the most successful sprinters in athletics.

Craig Reedie praised Jamaica for revamping its anti-doping systems following revelations of a complete breakdown of out-of-competition testing from January 2012 to the July opening of the London Olympics, where its athletes won 12 medals. He said the current program fully complies with WADA’s rules and regulations.

“I have to say, nobody could be anything other than hugely impressed by the amount of work that has been done,” Reedie told authorities at the Kingston office of the Jamaica Olympic Association at the close of his visit.

Among other measures, Jamaican authorities have carried out more tests, improved staffing, replaced the board of the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) and boosted the budget for the anti-doping program. The investment came as other government budgets were being slashed, with the island laboring under its latest loan program with the International Monetary Fund.

The improvements were made by JADCO’s new leadership in collaboration with the Canadian Center for Ethics in Sport.

Jamaican lawmakers also authorized an anti-doping act, which took effect last month.

“From the WADA point of view, we are proud of what you have achieved. You have become an excellent case study because there are many areas of the world which need the enthusiasm and the ability that you have shown,” said Reedie, who visited Jamaica at the invitation of Michael Fennell, the head of the Jamaica Olympic Association

Read more here:

Soul Skelly – Jamaican Talent in NYC

Jamaicans make an impact wherever they go- they pursue their dreams and work hard by using their talents. I had the pleasure of speaking with one such talented member of the Jamaican diaspora who lives in New York City – the upcoming dancehall artiste Soul Skelly. This budding musical lyricist is the voice behind the singles ‘Down in the Sheets’ and “Real Good Lovin.”

2015-01-06_19.15.351Brenton “Soul Skelly” Peterson, was born and raised in the town of Jibbs Hill, at the border of Kingston and St. Mary. From an early age he was exposed to music by his family members, particularly his mother, uncle and grandfather, and by his community at large.

“My community had a rich music culture, all the sound systems used to come there and play in the dancehalls. I was born into the music. I used to love going to the dancehall as a child. I would sneak in after they opened the gates in the early hours if the morning, so I could listen to the music and watch the DJ’s”, said Soul Skelly, jokingly as he recalled his earlier years.

This background would influence young Peterson’s music and people recognized his talent as he grew into a teenager. I sat down with him to learn about his story.

Q: How did you first start out?

A: My first recording was made when I was only 13 years old, at Buju Banton’s studio on White Hall Avenue, Kingston (Gargamel Productions). He was amazed when he heard my music. I loved going to the studio, I used to skip school just so I could to go there to record my music.

During that time I had the opportunity to hang around talented artistes like Silver Cat and even cultural icon Yassus Afari. I also performed at stage shows with the likes of Elephant Man and the Monster Shack Crew. I was a fearless young man on the stage and a lot of people knew me and loved my music. At that time I went by the name ‘Kelly Man’.

Peterson’s music career was briefly interrupted when he was 16 years old and he migrated to the United States to live with his father. But the change in location did not discourage him from writing his music.

Q: So how did you start doing music here in the US?

A: I started recording my music on tapes and when my uncle heard it, he encouraged me to record them in a studio. He introduced me to the Don One Studio, Brooklyn NYC, and that was where I did my first recordings here in the US. My music was played in clubs in the city. I would work on my music in my spare time when I wasn’t in school.

Over the years I have been working independently because I have more freedom to be more creative and create my own music. During that time I changed my name from “Kelly Man” to Soul Skelly because I am a soulful guy, and that is what my music reflects. My music is just a reflection of me trying to figure out what is going on in the world.

I came here (the US) with the intention to help my friends and family in Jamaica. I wanted to help people in the slums to have a better life. I still want to help them to this day. I believe that I will achieve my music career goals. I believe you should follow your destiny and your dreams, and be mindful that nothing comes without hard work.


In 2014, Soul Skelly was introduced to the owners of Large Tunez International, in Bronx, NY. He signed a recording deal with Large Tunez and let out his first single ‘Down in the Sheets’. Later that year, he released demo of the song ‘Real Good Lovin’.


CAM001311Q: So what can we expect from SoulSkelly in 2015?

A: This year is very promising. Music lovers can look out for the release of more singles and also for the video of my 2014 singles ‘Down in the Sheets’ and ‘Real Good Loving’.

Q: How would you describe your music?

A: My music is a reflection of my inner soul. I am a spiritual person and I make music for everyone because I am an entertainer. I am not a preacher. There are many religions and so many different cultures and I understand that the world is run by a righteous power. I am aligned with that power and I just try to be real with that power.

My goal is to entertain people. They don’t want to be preached to, they just want to be entertained, and I will achieve my goals by doing just that.


You can listen to Soul Skelly on YouTube at the links below.


Instagram: @soulskelly


The Jamaican Diaspora would like to thank Soul Skelly for taking the time to speak with us an sharing his story. We wish him all the best with his music career and hope that 2015 will bring him much progress and success.


Burrell backs Reggae Boyz to overcome economic hurdles

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – Jamaica’s football head, Captain Horace Burrell, has backed the Reggae Boyz to overcome the country’s challenging economic situation, and once make their mark on the global game.

Burrell told CMC Sport that Jamaica, like many other Caribbean countries, were faced with the difficulty of financing their preparation for major tournaments, and argued that the island’s economic problems were perhaps more acute than their regional neighbours.

“One of the challenges that stops these countries from properly preparing themselves is the whole business of lack of financing,” Burrell told CMC Sports in a recent exclusive interview. “Jamaica has challenges like you do in other countries within the Caribbean but I think our challenges are even more severe than others because we have a falling dollar. Currently the exchange rate to the US is just over 115 to one and that is always going to be a huge challenge.”

He added: “Despite all of that, we have the resolve to get it together and I do believe the Caribbean is going to be once again proud of Jamaica because we are a determined people.”

The Reggae Boyz became the first ever English-speaking Caribbean side to qualify for a World Cup finals when they competed in France 1998.

Since then their star has faded somewhat. They managed to reach the final round of CONCACAF qualifying for Brazil 2014 but finished bottom of the group.

Later this year, they will launch their campaign to reach Russia 2018, and Burrell said he expected the Reggae Boyz to have a successful run.

“Football is the lifeblood, not cricket – this is not to say that we in Jamaica don’t enjoy cricket but football is the number one sport in the country,” the veteran administrator said.

“Athletics is important as well … but football is the heartbeat of the populace so I expect us to continue developing our football and I expect us to progress to an advanced stage.”

Qualifying for CONCACAF nations kicks off next month but Jamaica will not become involved until the third round in September when they, along with Haiti, meet the ten winners from round two.

Courtesy of

Jamaican opposition: Marijuana bill opens door to discrimination

Opposition members in Jamaica’s Senate warn that a bill to decriminalize the use of marijuana for medicinal or religious purposes could lead to discrimination.

Sen. Tom Tavares-Finson said he is against Section 7 of the bill because it gives power to the Minister of Justice “to authorize persons, groups or organizations, he recognizes as Rastafarian, to cultivate cannabis on designated land,” the Jamaica Observer reported Monday.

“What it does is give the minister the supreme authority to decide who is a Rasta and who is not and, having done that, provides certain rights for that person over the rights of other Jamaicans. It cannot be right,” Tavares-Finson said.

Permitting the use of pot for religious ends stands to benefit Rastafarians, who regard smoking marijuana – which they call ganja – as a sacrament.

The Senate started debate last Friday on the bill proposing a series of amendments to the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1948, including the creation of a Cannabis Licensing Authority.

Tavares-Finson said the opposition supports the legislation, but is troubled by Section 7.

Jamaica has prohibited cannabis use for more than seven decades.

Courtesy of

“Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica” Education Campaign launched by Tourism Ministry

The Jamaica Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeil, spoke at the official launch of the JET/TEF “Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica” Public Education Campaign today. ETN is publishing a full transcript of his address:

Our tourism industry has an enviable record of success. Year after year, it provides thousands of jobs and earns valuable foreign exchange that contributes significantly to economic growth and social development. This is not merely a happy accident but the result of deliberate and well thought out policies, strategies and plans implemented by successive administrations. Of course, our tourism product enters the highly sophisticated global market with the competitive advantage of outstanding physical beauty, a vibrant history, culture and people…the latter often credited with being our best asset.

Paradoxically, tourism which is so beneficial, if not managed with vigilance, can threaten the very factors that attract visitors to our island. This is why we treat as a matter of priority, environmental management, and most relevant to this event, the mitigation of potential damage to the environment.

We must maintain a delicate balance in these two critical areas – with due care and timely interventions when necessary – to ensure that the industry is sustainable.

Let us be clear – the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment takes a special interest in these matters not merely to ensure the sustainability of the industry but equally to protect and preserve our environment for ourselves as a people. One of the tenets of the Tourism Master Plan is sustainable development – a key part of which is environmental sustainability. We play an active and vigilant role in environmental protection and preservation in partnership with governmental and non-governmental agencies, stakeholders and communities.

We have proven time and time again that consultation and consensus produce the best outcomes.

We invest heavily in our beaches and are engaged in the upgrading of 14 public beaches across the island, from Boston Beach in the East to Negril in the west.

Accordingly, between 2012 and the end of this year, the Tourism Enhancement Fund will have expended nearly $500 million on environmental initiatives. These projects are carried out in collaboration with a number of Ministries and entities as well as with non-governmental and community organizations, such as the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET).

The Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment also works closely with the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA).
Through the Tourism Enhancement Fund, (TEF), the Ministry is providing financing for the development and implementation of a holistic plan for the protection of the tourism product.

This plan includes:

• a study of national knowledge, practices and behaviour
• support for a National Air Quality Programme
• carrying capacity studies
• promulgation and finalization of Development Orders
• and the establishment of a Wildlife Sanctuary at Edgecombe, Westmoreland

The implementation of these plans began in the third quarter of last year and have a projected completion date of late 2016.

NEPA is also working on a project schedule for the establishment of a Black River Watershed Protection Management Unit. A total of $2.7 million has been allocated for this project.

We are also working with Non-Governmental Organizations such as our host for this morning’s function – the Jamaica Environment Trust. JET has a fine reputation for vigorously pursuing its objectives of serving the nation’s interest through environmental education and advocacy.

The Ministry and its agencies have previously partnered with JET to promote and execute annual International Coastal Cleanup Day activities, which have been very successful with some 7,400 volunteers participating in the 2014 staging.

But a one off venture is not enough. We recognize the need for a sustainable programme. So in collaboration with JET we have developed the yearlong Clean Coasts Project. The Ministry through the TEF has financed it in full to the tune of $34.5 million.

The program was designed to encourage Jamaicans to engage in sustained clean-up activities throughout the year instead of on just one day. It evolved out of the need to encourage positive behaviour change among Jamaicans and our visitors alike.

It has two components: land-based and underwater. The land-based component targets 10 – 15 schools in resort areas and also entails an adult education component. The project was designed to benefit from synergies with JET’s Schools’ Environment Programme (SEP) –which already uses curricula in schools to spread the message of environmental stewardship in tandem with Tourism Action Clubs island-wide.

This morning, I am pleased to launch an integral part of this project- a multi-media public education campaign – with the slogan “Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica” – no ambiguity as to its message!

It is geared at improving knowledge and attitudes with regard to waste and its impact on public health and the environment. The project brings together a number of stakeholders – schools, citizens, government and tourism industry players. I note and endorse fully the decision of JET to incorporate a social media component in this campaign, as by all indications social media is a prime medium by which to engage an ever-growing number of people, particularly in the younger age groups.

Even as we launch this program, let me underscore that at no time are we abdicating the Government’s responsibility to clean up Jamaica. The Ministry through the TEF has given $350 million to the National Solid Waste Management Authority to carry out this function. The funding for all these initiatives come from the Tourism Enhancement Fee, which is paid by each overseas visitor prior to arrival in Jamaica.

I heartily congratulate the TEF and JET as well as its members and volunteers on their enthusiasm, dedication and efficiency. The Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment and its agencies, are pleased to be the sponsors of this important initiative.

This is citizens’ action at its best. I wish the entire team continued success. You can count on our full blessing and support as together we fight to protect and preserve our environment. It is no exaggeration to say that our very survival depends on it.

Thank you.

Courtesy of