IP the key to maximising Jamaica’s cannabis potential – Webley

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The cannabis industry is worth billions and intellectual property (IP) can give Jamaica a competitive advantage in the global marketplace.

Attorney, IP specialist and cannabis executive Joan ‘Nanook’ Webley gave the advice at Kaya Fest in Miami. The festival, hosted by the Marley family, was one of the many events celebrating World Cannabis Day, better known as 4/20.

Webley is president of Itopia Life Ltd, a Caribbean medical cannabis company headquartered in Kingston, Jamaica. Her presentation focused on defining Jamaica’s cannabis culture and the purpose of sacramental herb.

Reggae, Rastafari and ganja are close allies that have become symbolic with Jamaica’s global cannabis brand. The brand is so strong that other countries have been exploiting it by using its characteristics to market their own products.

“Jamaica’s cannabis reputation is renowned the world over and it’s important that we use collective business strategies to protect our national brand and increase our earning potential,” said Webley.

Webley said, at an industry level, establishing and enforcing Geographic Indications (GI) protection is key. GI is a sign used on products that links its quality to its place of origin.

A GI also prevents foreign producers from using that place of origin on similar products. Importantly, a GI cannot be owned by an individual but is instead established, maintained and controlled by an approved industry collective. Webley also shared that the Jamaican government should consider establishing intellectual property protections for plant breeders of unique strains that will help ensure Jamaican farmers and companies can gain long term benefits.

“Jamaica has a unique brand appeal in the cannabis world and it needs to be protected with intellectual property,” Webley added.