A cannabis company with operations based in Jamaica announced this week that it has successfully exported cannabis-derived THC products to the United States, where they will be tested at a facility licensed by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The company, Pure Jamaican and its GMP-certified, licensed pharma manufacturer Seven-10 Pharmaceuticals, said the shipment marks the first legal export of THC to the United States from Jamaica in a move that elevates the Caribbean island nation’s role in the global cannabis supply chain.
Jamaica legalized the commercial export of cannabis for medical, scientific and therapeutic purposes in 2015, although government regulations for exporting medical marijuana products were not approved until 2021. Pure Jamaican plans to take advantage of the opportunity by legally exporting proprietary pharmaceutical products with cannabis-derived THC, hemp-derived CBD and other cannabinoids to the United States, Brazil and other major markets around the world.
Jamaica’s Ministry of Health and Wellness granted permission for Seven-10 Pharmaceuticals to export cannabis-derived THC products to the United States, while the DEA issued corresponding import permits. The company then shipped the products to a DEA-licensed facility where analytic testing was successfully completed. Scott Cathcart, CEO of Pure Jamaican and Seven-10 Pharmaceuticals, said the milestone “is a proud moment for Jamaica and for our group of companies.”
“Jamaica has long been associated with ‘ganja’ but never before in this context as a producer and legal exporter of THC as a pharmaceutical-grade medicine,” Cathcart said in a statement from the company. “As the only company in Jamaica licensed for pharmaceutical manufacturing of cannabinoids, we are proud to be leading the way to elevating the role of Jamaica in the global cannabis ecosystem.”
Shipment Comes As DEA Ponders Rescheduling
The first legal export of cannabis from Jamaica to the U.S. comes as the DEA is considering a proposal to relax restrictions on marijuana under federal law. Last summer, Rachel Levine, the Assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), wrote a letter to DEA head Anne Milgram recommending that cannabis be removed from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.
The recommendation was issued following an executive order from President Joseph Biden in October 2022 that directed the heads of the Department of Justice and HHS to review the classification of marijuana under federal law. Under the HHS recommendation, which was issued after a review of the available medical and scientific evidence, cannabis would be rescheduled under Schedule III of the CSA, a less restrictive classification than Schedule I that would ease cannabis research and likely lead to the approval of cannabis pharmaceuticals.
If the DEA approves the rescheduling, Seven-10 intends to request DEA permits to ship Pure Jamaican pharmaceutical THC products from Jamaica to patients in the US. Such shipments would be made to patients with a valid prescription and would comply with all relevant regulations from the DEA and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, as well as state pharmacy distribution regulations.
Shullette Cox, the president of Jamaica Promotions Corp. (JAMPRO), a trade and investment promotions corporation representing the Government of Jamaica, said that “the growth of the cannabis industry for medicinal purposes has been a priority of the government of Jamaica and particularly, the export of value-added products from Jamaica. The success of Pure Jamaican and Seven-10 Pharmaceuticals is applauded as JAMPRO continues to facilitate the local medicinal cannabis industry and ensuring its role in driving the growth of exports.”
Seven-10 has already begun shipping medicinal cannabis formulations to patients in Brazil, where regulations allowing pharmacy sales of such products went into effect in 2019. Prime Jamaica noted that together, the U.S. and Brazil comprise a market totaling more than 500 million people.
“This is a labor of love and not easy,” said Dr. Ellen Campbell Grizzle, chief regulatory and compliance officer of Pure Jamaican and Seven-10 Pharmaceuticals. “Jamaica has 52 percent of the world’s medicinal plants in our small island nation, and we are very proud to be exploring ways to identify new botanical medicines to bring health, wellness, new exports and economic growth to our country.”