THE RIGHT CALLING

Jamaica 2019 | HEALTH | INTERVIEW

Though a storied cultural pastime, the legalization and commercialization of one of the world's favorite habits offers Jamaica truly unique opportunities.

T’Shura Gibbs
BIOGRAPHY
Having served for almost 20 years in the airline industry, T’Shura Gibbs quickly ascended to the leadership of Avianca Airlines, where she served as General Manager for Jamaica. She is currently CEO of Zimmer & Co., a health and wellness distribution company.

What caught your interest in medical cannabis, and what potential do you see for the industry in Jamaica?

My interest was sparked at CanEx Jamaica 2017, where the tremendous health benefits as well as the positive impact medicinal cannabis can have on both the health sector and economy were highlighted. With so many companies discussing raw products such as flower and oil, I was drawn to the opportunities that finished products could offer. This industry offers transformative opportunities for the people and country of Jamaica. Given our long history and association with the plant, Jamaica should be the regional leader in this industry, and I look forward to seeing our industry evolve to rightfully establish itself in that position.

What have been the main highlights and achievements for Zimmer & Co. in Jamaica?

I am extremely proud of the ground we have covered in such a short time. We are building our business on the backbone of compliance and adherence to international standards and assembling a team capable of meeting our global ambitions. Since it started active sales in August, Zimmer & Co. has expanded its footprint across the island, and its products are now available in over 200 pharmacies, across all 14 parishes. We have a team that is demonstrating resilience, application, and learning every single day as we chart a path in this industry. Providing a platform for that ambition to shine and which represents the best of Jamaican talent and potential is extremely rewarding. We look to build a great working environment and pursue our business objectives. The greatest achievements are the positive stories we hear every day from people benefitting from our products. It is extraordinarily rewarding to see our medicine in the hands of people who need it the most, helping them to enjoy a better quality of life with products that are safe, effective, and produced in line with the highest global standards. This drew me to the industry and inspires me to face its challenges. It is my calling.

How does Zimmer & Co. stand out in the field of medical cannabis?

We focus on finished products such as cosmetics, topicals, sublingual drops, tablets, and suppositories. We have also been active in pursuing activities aimed at educating the market, from customers to healthcare professionals. It has not been easy, but I am proud of the work our team has done in this regard. In under four months, we have done over 100 in-store promotions and educated over 700 medical professionals. There is a great deal of work still to be done, but we are convinced our efforts will pay off as more people learn about the products and get comfortable with using and prescribing our products. We also view compliance and working with the respective agencies as a key aspect of our company's development, including the Pharmacy Council of Jamaica, Ministry of Health, and CLA. We look forward to seeing the production capacity in Jamaica come on stream in 2019.

Does the sudden attractiveness of the medical cannabis venture represent a risk for small farmers?

On the contrary, it provides a great opportunity for small farmers. The market demand for cannabis will continue to expand, and with Jamaica's special “brand" there is ample opportunity to participate at many different levels in the industry. That said, a common concern is lack of access to capital and the ability to develop adequate economies of scale. Through well-structured partnerships and co-operatives, farmers can benefit from both local sales and export opportunities. There is tremendous opportunity in the industry, though there is no step more important than the first; for Jamaica and Jamaicans to truly benefit we each need to take that first step. The real challenges start when one is actually open for business—the time they also find the greatest reward.