Cannabis company Kaya has joined forces with the National Environment Planning Agency (NEPA) to be part of its Adopt-A-Beach programme.
Just yesterday, the Kaya consortium of companies that includes the herb house (cannabis dispensary), pizzeria, café, bar, juice bar, farms and processing facilities, kick-started the Labour Day weekend with a beach clean-up cut short by rain, that saw them collecting 17 bags of debris and six bag of plastic bottles from Fisherman’s Beach in St Ann’s Bay, St Ann.
“We want to be part of something that makes a difference for our coastlines and the health and well-being of not only the ocean and the lives within, but also for us and our future generations,” said Natesha Smith, Kaya Group administration and human resource manager.
Smith said despite the awareness spread about ocean pollution, not enough persons are playing their part. “There are a number of pollutants in the ocean that casually started to flow from our very shores, including the vast amount of plastic that is being dumped into our oceans. Yet, only a few people really know or understand how extremely hazardous they are to marine lives and inevitably to us as human beings,” said Smith.
Yesterday, the small team comprising 10 staff members from Kaya, removed debris scattered along the borders of Fisherman’s Beach, which attracts a large number of children and is part of the regular trails for tourists.
“This is our first environmental project but by no means our last. Prior to this project, the management team of Kaya focused on other philanthropic activities that were geared more towards feeding and supporting the less fortunate,” Smith told The Gleaner.
Their last philanthropic activity was in 2020, where following the health and safety protocols mandated by the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Kaya hosted a pizza day activity at the Mustard Seed, Jacob’s Ladder community in St Ann.
ASSISTING IN PRESERVING COASTLINE
Now Kaya, which has been at the forefront of the medical ganja industry since 2015, saw the need for the company to assist in the preservation of Jamaica’s coastline and use the opportunity to have its staff working outside the office and partake in a meaningful activity said Smith.
Noting predictions made by scientists who say, over the next 20 years, up to 90 per cent of all coral reefs are estimated to disappear primarily as a result of warming ocean waters, ocean acidity, and pollution, she said: “Can you imagine, not having any ocean for our future generation, them not getting to experience swimming in the ocean or laying on the sand because it is so polluted? That is the reason we decided to get hands-on and involved in protecting the marine lives and the ocean from pollution.”
Referring to the three core principles of Jamaican culture on which the vertically integrated cannabis business operates, of wisdom, pride and respect, she explained: “Our involvement in projects of this nature is so, that we demonstrate that we respect our island, and take great pride in helping to keep it clean and have the wisdom to use the information around us and keep looking for other opportunities to participate or lead in other environmental projects like this one.”
The cannabis company operates in three parishes – St Ann, Kingston and Trelawny – and has a retail operation in each, with its cultivation and production subsidiaries operating out of St Ann. In 2018, Kaya became the first medical cannabis brand from the Caribbean to open a retail, medical marijuana herb house for the selling and consumption of cannabis on-premises. Then in February 2020, they made the first commercial export of ganja oil to Cayman. With all these notable achievements and more, including a franchising operation in Uruguay, Kaya thought it important to zero in on ensuring its part in doing what it can to “contribute positively to Jamaica’s efforts in creating a sustainable environment,” Smith affirmed.
The beach clean-up was an eye-opener for Smith and other persons on the team, but a success and Kaya intends to expand on the initiative, and plans are already afoot, she said.
“We have three additional clean-ups of this beach remaining for the year. The other dates are July 12, September 13 and December 14. The team and I, as well as all the staff, were extremely elated to take on this environmental project and eagerly look forward to same. In terms of Kingston and our other branches, we are working with NEPA in this regard, and they will advise us accordingly; however, in the interim, Kaya will do other philanthropic activities in those areas until we have further environmental initiatives developed,” Smith shared.
In the future, they hope to get the public and their customers involved. “In launching this initiative during the pandemic, with the extension of the COVID-19 prevention measures under the Disaster Risk Management Act, we only had our staff members. However, for the future, we will definitely plan an activity around customer participation where possible, once the restrictions are further relaxed and the pandemic has passed,” she said.
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