Green Stripe Naturals is a Jamaican cannabis company severing the country’s high-volume tourist market. CEO Wayne Isaacs discusses the Jamaican cannabis space with a focus on existing regulation and cannabis’ cultural impact in Jamaica. Green Stripe Naturals recently acquired licenses to cultivate, process, conduct research and development, transport, and dispense cannabis. The company is currently focused on building out the cultivation side of its business and expects Jamaica to allow cannabis exporting soon. Green Stripe Naturals plans to go public by the end of the year.
James West: Hey, welcome back. My guest this segment is Wayne Isaacs. He’s the CEO of Green Stripe Naturals, a private company that will yet soon go public. Welcome, Wayne.
Wayne Isaacs: Thank you very much. Pleasure to be here.
James West: Sure. Tell me about Green Stripe Naturals.
Wayne Isaacs: Well, Green Stripe is a company that was formed over the past year or so. The company was really born out of, you know, my curiosity with respect to how the cannabis business was operating in Canada, and how that could be translated into opportunities coming out of Jamaica. You know, as most people will know and recognize, you know, Jamaica is one of the few countries in the world with a national cannabis brand.
So you know, in light of the fact that, you know, there was so much attention being paid to cannabis here in Toronto, I wanted to make sure that, you know, some of the light was shed on Jamaica, my home country – I am Jamaican-Canadian. And, you know, I wanted to make sure that the national branding of Jamaica and the superior cannabis in Jamaica, you know, would have access, you know, to markets all over the world.
James West: Mm-hmm. So when you say a national cannabis brand, do you mean the idea that cannabis is kind of thought of as a national product of Jamaica?
Wayne Isaacs: That’s exactly what I mean. That’s exactly what I mean, yeah.
James West: [laughter] Okay, can’t argue with you there.
Wayne Isaacs: You know, I’ve been very fortunate in that I’ve traveled, you know, a great deal of the world throughout my career, and you know, every time that I mention I’m from Jamaica, you know, usually one of the first questions that, you know, people will ask is, you know, I’ve heard that there’s some really good cannabis in Jamaica.
James West: Well, I’m going to go down there and find out on Thursday for myself.
Wayne Isaacs: Well, I hope you do.
James West: I’m looking forward to it! Okay, so then, is the opportunity basically characterized by a large export market or a large domestic market? Medical, recreational? What’s the configuration?
Wayne Isaacs: A little bit of everything. You know, what we’re looking at right now for our company focus, initially we’ll be looking at doing business domestically, simply because the export laws in Jamaica haven’t been quite defined yet, okay? So there is some delay right now with the Jamaican government in terms of getting a properly defined export protocol in place, so for the meantime, what we’re going to be doing is really servicing the domestic community, primarily, you know, those high-traffic tourist areas in Jamaica.
James West: Okay. So is there currently recreational laws in place?
Wayne Isaacs: No, there is no recreational law in Jamaica; there is no recreational cannabis use in Jamaica, okay?
James West: That sounds like a complete contradiction to me, from what I know!
Wayne Isaacs: You know, a lot of people think that recreational cannabis is legal in Jamaica; it is not. Every Jamaican is allowed to grow five plants, and they can use those five plants for their own purposes. Those purposes may be recreational, medicinal or sacramental, but there is no real recreational use law in Jamaica that says you are permitted to use cannabis recreationally.
What it has been is that it’s significantly decriminalized, okay? You know, so if you are found with cannabis, you know, that would exceed, for example, your personal use amount, you know, then that could be construed as being contrary to the law; but there is no law that says you are, you know, there’s recreational use of cannabis in Jamaica.
James West: And this is the first time I’ve ever heard cannabis use described as sacramental. Maybe some of my audience doesn’t quite understand what that means, especially in the Jamaican context; can you elaborate on that?
Wayne Isaacs: I could, and I’ll try to do it some justice. But you know, sacramental use of cannabis really is something that is more concentrated around the Rastafarian communities. You know, where they grow cannabis and they often use cannabis as a sacrament in their religious practices, okay? So some people, depending on what form of religious practices they may have, you know, they may grow cannabis strictly for the reason of offering up to their deities.
James West: Right. So do Jamaicans who are Rastafarians, essentially, do they get a free pass if they’re found with cannabis?
Wayne Isaacs: The sacramental laws, if you’re a member of certain recognized churches, Rastafarian churches, in Jamaica, the cannabis laws allow you to grow and transport and consume cannabis under your sacramental rights.
James West: I see. Interesting. So now, what is the growth profile of your operation in Jamaica at this point? What’s it going to look like in 12 months, 24 months?
Wayne Isaacs: Well, right now what we’ve done is, we’ve recently acquired, you know, five conditional licenses in Jamaica. That’s a full spectrum of cannabis licensing that’s available in Jamaica. We have a cultivation license, a processing license, an R&D license, transportation license, and a dispensary license. Right now what we’re doing is, we’re building out the cultivation part of the business. We have spent the last, I would say, six to eight weeks or so building it out; we’ve constructed five structures on the premises, and we’re really trying to get those premises now compliant with what the cannabis licensing authority in Jamaica requires to grant us a final license to grow cannabis.
James West: Very interesting. So then, your anticipation and expectation, I gather, is that there will be export laws in place in due course?
Wayne Isaacs: Oh, absolutely. You know, I think Jamaica must put export laws in place; I think it is coming. It’s a little bit slow coming, just simply because, you know, there has to be considerations given to the number of different jurisdictions that you could potentially export to. You know, so the government, I think, is trying to make sure that there are allowances made within the export regime to accommodate those import criterias [sic] from other jurisdictions.
James West: Sure. And Red Stripe is a nationally, or internationally, recognized beer brand; is Green Stripe associated with Red Stripe?
Wayne Isaacs: Green Stripe is not associated with Red Stripe, you know, but we are hoping to have that international cannabis brand very much like Red Stripe has the international beer brand.
James West: Sure. Interesting – maybe a potential acquisition down the road.
Wayne Isaacs: Well, you know, we wouldn’t rule it out.
James West: Right. For sure. Okay, so then, is the domestic market, is there – there’s 2.9 million people resident there; what portion of them are known to be cannabis consumers?
Wayne Isaacs: It’s hard to say, you know, because there aren’t really any real reliable statistics on that. But what I can tell you is just from my, you know, sort of anecdotal information/experience: a great number of Jamaicans are cannabis users, but not necessarily cannabis smokers. You know, like a lot of older people will use cannabis in things like teas, you know, to help with their pains and their aches. You know, some people will use it, you know, again for various medicinal purposes, you know; but I would say a good portion of the population probably, in some way, shape or form, may use cannabis.
But also, you know, what you have to keep in mind is that, you know, culturally and traditionally, it’s a very accepted form of medicinal treatment in Jamaica, right? So not all use of cannabis goes towards, you know, getting a high or anything like that; you know a lot of it goes towards curing ailments or basically, you know, quality of life issues.
James West: Sure. And you’ve already got some agreements in place to sell your product to the Ganja Growers and Producers Association of Jamaica?
Wayne Isaacs: No, that’s the other way around, actually. The Ganja Growers and Producers Association of Jamaica is the largest and most powerful advocacy and political group for all things cannabis in Jamaica. When I decided to go back to Jamaica and start looking at opportunities in Jamaica, they were one of the first groups that I met with. I developed a very good relationship with the executive members of the Association, and in the end what we decided was that, you know, Green Stripe would actually get a supply agreement from the Ganja Growers Association whereby they would supply us with certain quantities of cannabis on a pre-order basis, so that we can distribute that cannabis not only just in the local markets, but also for international distribution purposes, as well.
James West: I see. So you’re not actually planning to be the grower; you’re going to partner with growers and sell their product for them?
Wayne Isaacs: Partially, but we also have our own cultivation facility; we have a 20-acre facility in Clarendon that we’re building out right now, and we’re expecting to put that into full cultivation, partial cultivation by the end of the year, full cultivation within the next 12 months.
James West: Okay, and when do you anticipate Green Stripe seeking a public listing?
Wayne Isaacs: Well, I’m hoping it’ll be by the end of the year, you know, because we’ve put a great deal of effort into building this company. We’ve got a fantastic shareholder base who have been very, very supportive. You know, there’s some liquidity in the markets right now, you know; we’re hoping to capitalize on all of those factors and hopefully get a listing by the end of the year.
James West: Fantastic. Well, that’s a great introduction, Wayne. We’ll look forward to seeing you when you get up and running and public, and thank you for joining me today.
Wayne Isaacs: Well, I’m looking forward to getting you caught up on the story and updating the public on our progress in Jamaica. And thank you very much for having me.
James West: Pleasure.
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