Dec 10






Last week Thursday, I was gifted the opportunity to flex my creative muscles via an adapted and stylised presentation of the 30 Articles making up the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. You see today, 10th December 2018, marks the 70th Anniversary of the implementation of this UN drafted and adopted collection of rights, agreed upon to be the most basic and fundamental rights afforded to every human being on the planet earth…without exception! Apparently, so the story goes/suh dem seh (a phrase I will henceforth use by way of a disclaimer, in case what I share with you today turns out to be based on fake news at some future point), a group of people from around the world, appalled by the atrocities that took place during the second world war, decided to take proactive measures to ensure that human beings would never again be allowed to descend to the levels of barbarity, evil  and wickedness as was seen during the six year war. Yeah right, I sense some of you thinking.





Growing up in England, my perspective of that war was always influenced by media images of valiant Englishmen and their allies, risking their lives for the rights and freedoms of their fellow countrymen.


Each November, as a child through to my teens, I would customarily wear the purchased poppies that my whole family wore in memory of those brave souls that sacrificed their lives for a noble cause. The only bad guys in that war story were the Germans, or to be more specific, a particular group of deranged Germans called Nazis. Apparently taking the life of another was only evil if, according to the rules of war, the lives were those of the bad guys. The fact that both sides of the cass cass saw the other as the bad guys was irrelevant to those writing the history books I studied. Bloody, valiantly fought battles and atom bombings were mixed in with stifled tales of torture, sexual abuses, murder of civilians and other unclaimed acts of barbarity…on both sides. No doubt the saying that “all is fair in love and war” could well have been coined during the said conflicts.



In the aftermath of that war, an estimated 60 million human beings were dead. WWII was dubbed ‘the worst war in modern history’, by the time it ended in 1945.  The United Nations emerged through unification of 58 country states, officially forming in 1948, with the primary purpose of bringing peace and upholding the rights of citizens in all lands. They drafted and agreed to the Declaration of Human Rights, the details of which most of the world’s citizens, I would hazard a guess, are oblivious. I hazard that guess on the basis that BBC World News reports (one of the few news sharing establishments I still have some level of trust in), consistently highlight unprecedented atrocities happening daily across our planet. As if on cue, as I drove home from my Human Rights presentation to the Mandeville Graduates of the Sutherland Global Microsoft Training programme, I felt a deflating blow when I tuned in to my radio to hear about the ‘alleged’ daily executions taking place in the African country of Burundi. The chilling report, as told by the BBC news correspondent, based on first hand intelligence obtained from eye witnesses and former perpetrators, stunned me. The pitch and inflections in the voice of the young sounding reporter, gave away a frustration that I presumed came from the fact that no decisive action was being taken by the UN nations, despite the submission of solid evidence to the UN leadership.





Having become privy to and played a part in sharing the 30 human rights articles to an audience of Jamaicans, what now? Surely the scale of the global human rights breaches might suggest that those rights are destined to remain mere words on paper, while even the heads of states that are signatories to the declaration are themselves perpetrating, at worst, and turning a blind eye to, at least, gross human rights violations against their citizens. Closer to home, here in Jamaica, a modern day tropical paradise, the Tivoli Gardens ‘incident’ of 2010 still echoes a cry for justice that will ring in our ears for generations to come. Though I am considered an eternal optimist, the international and local news on any given day lends support to my concerns, that since the 1948 scripting of the declaration of human rights, matters have in fact gotten progressively worse, rather than better.



So, is it worth building the hopes of ordinary citizens by spreading the gospel of human rights to which they are entitled, yet potentially have little recourse if the state and its officers refuses to honour them? I say yes! Let the people know their rights! Armed with knowledge of what being a human being should afford them might at least empower some, and then more and more, to stand up for their individual and collective rights. Around the globe we are seeing and hearing of unrest and mounting frustrations among ordinary citizens that are saying enough is enough to leaders that have lost sight of their responsibility to serve and support all its citizens equally and fairly. The youth in particular are rising up to protest the disparities in treatment for segments of the society and blatant corruption within both government and private sectors.





All that said, given the energy of the youth of this world to clean up the messes of prior generations, I will do what feels right to me and proceed to sensitize my fellow Jamaicans and other world citizens to the 30 rights they have on the global stage, by virtue of the fact that they are human. The link below is to the Youth for Human Rights web page, which features a simplified version of the 30 Articles, as I shared with the young graduates.


Learn them, as one day, you may need to demand or exercise one of them, in the face of some violation. You do, after all, have the weight of the now 192 member states of the United Nations behind you. Let us trust that this is heavyweight enough when put to the tests.


As our island’s reggae icon, Bob Marley sang…”Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights!” Knowing them is the first step.


Nov 6

Cannabis Risk Management and Insurance Matters






I recently went in search of credible evidence to support the folklore pertaining to Cannabis being found on the grave of the undisputed ‘wisest man on earth’, King Solomon. Voila! I came across information about a 2006 excavation in Jerusalem, which revealed a quantity of whole Cannabis plants, unearthed, from what scientists believe, is King Solomon’s tomb in Mount Zion. Not only does this add weight to the growing body of evidence that biblical folk used Cannabis for its psychoactive properties and their rituals, it joins the dots all the way along the Solomonic Line, started when Queen Makeda begat (I love that word!) a son with King Solomon, Menelik I. It is a lineage traced to Emperor Haile Selassie I, icon of the Rastafari faith.


I say all of this, not because these historical facts relating to my namesakes form the rationale for my natural evolution into the area of managing risks and securing insurance protection for the famed sacred plant and its byproducts, but because it certainly makes for a good introduction n’est pas/nuh true?



Anyway, a group of archaeologists, led by a Hongen Jiang (University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences), discovered thirteen (13) Cannabis plants that were still largely intact after millennia underground. “In a first for funerary marijuana, the plants were found lying like a burial shroud atop the body of a man who had died in his early-80s. Their roots lay below the man’s hips and the tips — which had been trimmed to remove the flowers — extended up around his face”. So it seems the hallowed herb didn’t merely grow on Solomon’s grave…he was wrapped from head to toe in it! Clearly not a ‘buck up’ as we would say.






My fascination with the cannabis plant didn’t start yesterday. Having had close and longstanding ties with members of the UK and then Jamaican Rastafarian communities, my ‘overstanding’ of the sacramental use of Cannabis has naturally given rise to a foundation knowledge of and sincere respect for the sacred herb. Previous Blogs have made mention of dear naturopath and energy healing friends that have shared their knowledge and wisdom relating to the natural healing capabilities of our bodies, endocannabinoid system and its inbuilt receptors for Cannabis. One might say that in addition to The Almighty including the Cannabis plant in the fauna of our lands, we were also intricately wired to receive its benefits as part of our natural healing. I don’t want to get too med-tech here, so feel free to research further for greater understanding.


In spite of my 37 years in the Risk Management and Insurance industry (UK & Jamaica), I have maintained a characteristic penchant for seeking out holistic, outside the box solutions to a diverse range of problems. Could be my ENFP personality type…perhaps? So, rather than winding down for (very early) retirement, the buzz surrounding the Cannabis industry worldwide has inspired me to re-saddle, seat up and invest my professional expertise in this growing market. Pun intended.


Licensed Cannabis retailers, cultivators/processors, distributors and vertically integrated organisations in the Jamaican marketplace have been my first point of service focus, however, the whole world will be on the ganja train in the not too distant future, so I predict a growing demand for RM & insurance specialists to guide the multitudes, many of whom are new to the world of business, much less its risks. Even the British Government has loosened its stiff upper lip, adding Cannabis to the pharmacopoeia of medicines available to patients on the National Health Service (NHS), effective 1st November 2018!






Let me back up a little. Risk Management, in simple terms, is the comprehensive identification of risks a particular operation/business is exposed to, the implementation of preventative/mitigating measures (where possible), the consideration of risk absorption/self-funding, then the appropriate transfer of risks that could severely impact the business e.g. through insurance placements. The formula may sound simple enough (or was so totally boring that you tuned out), but from my experience, organisations guided through the process by a seasoned professional in the field, run less risk of missing exposures to risks that might be right under their noses. The proverbial ‘wood for the trees’. My further caution at this point is for the engagement of a holistically steered, technically competent, yet creatively inspired practitioner that operates beyond the ticking of boxes. Do! One that both knows what to look for and what (sometimes) ‘silly’ questions to ask. The Cannabis industry takes us all into brand new pastures…let’s not do this by rote.






I cut my teeth in the discipline of Risk Management by force to be honest. It was during the Local Government Risk Management revolution in England (90’s), when authorities across the country were ‘forced’ to find better solutions to ‘ground up’ insurance programmes, through a monopolistic insurance provider, MMI (Municipal Mutual Insurance), which finally went belly up. It was simple maths, the annually escalating premium costs couldn’t keep pace with the minefield of legal claims that were emerging in the borough councils. The sexual abuse of children in the Social Services care homes was one particular risk explosion that changed the local government insurance landscape. I was already in the hot seat as an Insurance Officer when the decree to introduce the brand new concept to thousands of departmental directors and staff was passed. Overnight (well, after specialist training), we emerged as Risk Managers & Insurance Officers, charged with spreading the gospel of Risk Management to sometimes reluctant heads of Education, Social Services, Leisure, Environmental Health, Housing, Highways etc. departments. All with their very diverse services and peculiar risk exposures. Some insurance officers panicked, but the adventure-freak in me dived right in and was excited to ride the new Risk Management wave. It was no longer business as usual.






The fundamental principles of Risk Management will of course apply to the Cannabis industry as they do with most others, however, the newness of so many players to the differentially legislated sector, means that unprecedented risk exposures (that will continue to evolve) must be identified and holistically viewed, to plug any gaps in security, best practice processes/international standards e.g. G.A.P., protection and in due course, insurance.


It is imperative that the usual parameters of Risk Management review are set down and expanded to incorporate all risk possibilities, including Physical, Financial (Pecuniary), Legislative, Human and Energetic…yes, ENERGETIC. We are after all dealing with a natural living plant that will be transformed to support the health of natural living human beings…both energetically comprised and potentially compromised.



Newcomers to the industry, unless it is critical or compulsory, insurance policies should ideally be considered after a thorough survey, meetings with key stakeholders and the establishment of your risk tolerance levels. It’s not wise to put an-off-the-shelf policy in place without determining its suitability for your peculiar exposures. The insurance sector worldwide has, to be honest, tended to move at dinosaur pace in regards to modernising scopes of policy covers over the years, preferring to stay closer to the Lloyds Coffee Shop (embryonic birthplace of our insurance industry) models of policy wording. An opportunity now presents itself for forward thinking insurers to underwrite more creatively tailored polices for the Cannabis businesses mushrooming around the globe. Take the risk!






Currently in Jamaica, the main licensed players include persons/companies in the categories of Cannabis growers, manufacturers, dispensers, researchers, medical practitioners distributors/exporters. Other legally recognised players are for another story. Each branch of the sector comes with its own particular risks, which must be carefully and methodically explored. Tracking the journey from the seed to the consumer across company divides and multiple processes, means that a bird’s eye view is needed to weed out (sorry) contractual overlaps and fill gaps in risk responsibilities.






Dispensaries: The cannabis industry, like so many others, utilises technological systems to support operations in a number of areas e.g. POS (Point of Sale) or ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning).


Regardless of the safeguards built into your systems, there is always a clever youngster somewhere that has reached the peak of their cyber hacking career and is looking for greener pastures. Along comes the lucrative Cannabis industry.  Reports in the US market of some pretty serious cyber hacking situations are a cause for concern. Just ask MJ Freeway, a company recently subjected to an attack that caused two weeks of server outage. Breaches in your cyber-defenses can arise through a number of channels, affecting areas as unexpected as transportation and delivery information.


Robust cybersecurity is a must as a preventative measure, though insurance covers for the aftermath of those unstoppable hacks, may be needed. These cyber-ninjas are proliferating at a rapid rate, with each new wave of bored genius teenagers.


What if one of these youngsters could shut down the most vulnerable part of your Cannabis retail system? They might change prices through your POS system. Or ask your system provider to talk you through the levels of security they have in place to protect your data, their servers, and the privacy of your patients.


Growers: Whether you are a grower only or a Cannabis dispensary that has vertically structured to grow your own cannabis, don’t be naïve. Your systems can be breached directly or even indirectly via other operational seemingly obscure systems. Case: Target’s POS system was breached through its HVAC system (the store’s heating and cooling system). Through that network the cheeky hacker gained access to the store’s POS system and consequently customer information. Imagine one of your competitors hiring hackers to mess up the heating/cooling/lighting settings within your operations, destroying your crop by throwing off the delicate growing cycle. Ok, don’t imagine it; just make a mental note to tighten up cyber controls where you can. I mentioned your competitors, but you might find an internal team member that decides they have a beef (tofu, for my fellow vegetarians) with you and throws the proverbial spanner in the networks.


Bottom line, ensure your systems are optimally protected and that integrated platforms (that will allow a hacker to hop from one to the other) have equally high levels of cybersecurity, leaving no gaps in the integration process that could leave your information vulnerable.


Access restrictions at varying staff levels is also advisable to minimize infiltration from without and foul play from within. Monthly cybersecurity checks at management level are one way to heighten vigilance in this vast area.





Whether you are in the Cannabis business already or teetering on the brink of jumping in, it’s never too early to start the process of looking at your risk exposures. My mother used to say ‘too late, too late shall be their cry’…I’m not sure where the dramatic phrase came from, but it certainly hastened my steps to cut procrastination and take the relevant course of action. Be proactive in taking your steps towards implementing your Risk Management Programme.


Effectively communicating the philosophy to your team members should also form a part of the Risk Manager’s charge. A persuasive presenter that can break the information down into non-stress inducing levels is key. Buy-in and commitment of all staff is a vitally important Risk mitigation factor, as it only takes one person forgetting to log out of your POS portal, in a public space, to throw your business doors wide open to cyber risks! I’m not trying to scare you in a Trump-esque way, just raise your awareness. 






Now I could continue with a list and description of other Cannabis industry risk exposures, but I think it will be more fun if we ‘walk the floor’, then sit together over a coffee or red wine and compile a comprehensive list of risks that face YOU in particular! No two enterprises are exactly alike and the industry is brand new, so why approach the process from a pre-prepared, tick-boxed template? With a clean slated, birds-eye vantage point, we can work together to create the best Risk Management and Insurance solutions for our fledgling Cannabis industry and perhaps your entity in particular. 






Whether inspired by the Solomonic connection to the sacred herb or the vast opportunities emerging in the once legal, then illegal, now partially legal Cannabis industry, I am excited to be alive and witnessing the attention being bestowed on the plant that has been called ‘The healing of the nation’. Evidence now points to the fact that our wise King Solomon, or at the very least the bones of a male from that era and area, was laid to rest in a Cannabis shroud. I trust that the plant will continue to heal minds, bodies and elevate the souls of humankind. Finally, may social conscience lead (or ‘jook’) those positioned to benefit financially from the Jamaican market, so that they will pay homage and due regard to the stalwart farmers that kept the Jamaican Cannabis flag flying high over the years. Take it from me, there is enough room for all to ‘eat a food’.






Oct 9





After George Orwell nuh more dan me! So…picture this…



We are now in the year 2030, 12 years after the Great Financial Collapse that saw the Jamaican Dollar hit an overnight low of $350 to one US dollar. The shock to the economy brought about a rapid swell of public outrage as prices of basic consumer items spiraled out of affordability! [Flashback]…Meanwhile, two months before the crisis struck, a game changing international conference had been held in the then troubled City of Montego Bay. It was called ‘CanEx Jamaica’ and was attended by representatives from around the world, seeking alliances in the swelling global Cannabis revolution. Jamaica was finally taking advantage of its natural prime position and the conference was as a bright flame to many moths.






At that conference, a mystic man dressed in white robes ignited the passion of the matriarchs with an earnest plea for them to take charge of the future of Jamaica, it’s Cannabis industry in particular, in order for it to fulfill its prophesied potential of becoming ‘the healing of the nation’. He spoke to the throng about Cannabis saying…”talk to that plant yourself from the root up…the females have been appointed by Mother Earth herself to heal the planet…“. Spontaneous applause erupted in the packed auditorium. One woman, at the helm of the new giant industry, heeded the Sage’s call and gathered unto her a team of Jamaica’s brightest, upstanding, integrous and nurturing women, then rally-cried to all the women of the nation to join them in heralding lasting peace and prosperity for ALL on the island.



We will all recall that day in history, when powerful women from down town and uptown joined forces and marched on ‘The Government’. Mothers across the island unanimously echoed the refrain that enough was enough…too many of their sons were dying, far too many of their daughters lived in fear! Collectively and without the shedding of a drop of blood, the matriarchs ‘persuaded’ Government officials to stand down from duty. Fairly and squarely, under the collective leadership of twelve conscious, virtuous and genius Jamaican women (sorry men, it was unanimously referendum-ed, that you had been at the helm a tad too long and basically…destroyed the fabric of our society…along with the environment), a new island order was established. Integrated left and right brain reasoning, heart centred women’s intuition and wisdom from a few ‘elder’ matriarchs were the orders of the day. Security force personnel were replaced by an all-woman troupe of Peace & Love Keepers…Wakanda style of course!. My brothers, I’m hoping you are still with me and not hissing your teeth at this point in the fantasy. Anyway, for those still open to their untamed imagination, read on.





With the donations from the booming Cannabis industry…the trusted stewards of which having seen to it that development and integration programmes were set up to assist the stalwart ‘ganja farmers’ of yesteryear…a cohesiveness and communal spirit spread across the land. Those with ailments who previously could not afford medical care/treatment were given natural herb medicines at CBD Clinics set up across the island and run by Jamaica’s first class NHS (Naturopathic Health System 😉 ). The headquarters were at the newly rebuilt Cornwall Regional Health Oasis.


Refocused former ‘Scammers’ put their brilliant young minds to jobs created in legal Cannabis related business ventures that seamlessly replaced their previous illicit gains. Prisoners were trained by freed GRC (Ganja-Related-Crime) inmates, in the cultivation of Cannabis from soil to reaping. ‘Mi Likkle Ganja Book’ (written by a dear friend of mine, Nereree Edwards) was the official comprehensive text! Students in schools were similarly taught the rudiments of cultivating Cannabis (alongside other beneficial herbs and organic vegetables), about the numerous beneficial products derived therefrom and about the various business opportunities within the sector. The sustainability and longevity of the industry was therefore secured, causing it to overtake tourism as Jamaica’s main income earner…resulting in the rapid development of the island. Loans to international donors were paid off earlier than scheduled and imports reduced significantly while demand for Jamaica’s agricultural exports, Jamaican culture and Jamaica’s new army of expert Cannabis Consultants, grew exponentially worldwide. The Queen of England reigned no more as the Queens across the nation rose to assume their rightful royal roles.



All citizens of this beautiful paradise island were nurtured and cared for…by other more able citizens; Neighbours practiced the true meaning of the word and all ‘ate a food’, sharing, bartering, exchanging. Over a period of only two years, crime levels had fallen to mere minor skirmishes (mainly amongst the group that had experienced major trauma at losing their material status symbols. Jamaican people recreated communally based communities based on a co-hesive, co-operative livity and family life flourished once again. Eased of financial stresses, mothers and fathers reunited and harmoniously co-parented the children.



Environmentally sensitive  architects designed future builds that no longer represented the industrialised, non-family-oriented structures, but areas fostering the wholesome development of children and peace of mind of their parents. Pre-existing concrete structures were ‘softened’ with greenery e.g. roof gardens and the children played in the numerous new parks across the island, constructed as gifts by conscientious Chinese corporate donors. Corrupt law enforcement officers were rooted out, internally. Peace and harmony reigned for and within all people, from all sides of the island and former colour lines (political and racial). Citizens were keen to relinquish excessive material possessions in exchange for the harmony and happiness of a crime free land. Former Minister of National Security, Peter Bunting, was given a national honour by the Women, in recognition of his prescriptive and prophetic declaration some years before, that Jamaica needed ‘Divine Intervention’. He was spot on! The changes that came about in Jamaica could indeed be described as nothing short of miraculous.





In the true spirit of resilience and as evidence of relevance, The Communal Party still remains in SERVICE today, without challenge, fuss or fight. They represent all citizens without bias or curried favour, having been assembled by the Council of 12 Women, from the pure of heart found within the dissolved political parties (don’t ask me how many), proud upstanding Jamaicans (from home and the diaspora), the spiritually awoke/conscious ones and the ego-free elders. An arm of the party is dedicated to the Rastafarian movement and led by a wise Empress named Barbara, in recognition of one and one’s sacrifices made over the years to keep the sacramental herb burning in the land. One named Chronixx is their appointed Youth Leader, who consults with members of all the houses of Rastafari that were re-assembled in unity, under the Seal of Solomon ;). The Rastafari Indigenous Village in Montego Bay, was used as a model for groups across the island, and subsequently the world, wishing to learn a successful nature based way of living. A new Communalism…





The story above may read a little far-fetched, as I’m sure George Orwell’s ‘1984’ seemed at the time of first publication, but I don’t think any of us will disagree that we are living in serious times, that cry out for radical change. Could it be time for us to consider, then vision and then (re)build our communities based on a more all-Jamaican-lives-matter basis? It may not be called ‘Communalism’, as the strict definition of the word speaks of governments and federations, but we sure would be living and working together in harmony…supporting one another. Living in the ‘spirit’ of what communes of cohesive citizens represent. Perhaps we can simply call it Community-ism? Again, it may sound utopian, but that’s the reality I would use my vote to achieve! Now just to work on my detachment from unnecessary material things.





[DISCLAIMER: Only read further if you are already considering detachment from the consumer treadmill and resultant routine lifestyle, considering an alternative, less cluttered life or on the verge of a stress-induced breakdown. The content may be particularly disturbing to staunch Commercialised-Capitalist-Consumerists, causing possible in cold sweats and panic attacks at the visualization of the outlined content]



So, here we go…


1. When all is said and done it is up to YOU to create the time and dedicated brain friendly space to be able to take a real stock of your current life-style. First thing in the morning when you first awake from slumber, catch your thoughts! No, literally, if you don’t consciously step in front of your thoughts, they will race ahead of your consciousness like a racehorse galloping from the stalls!


2. Hold a ‘meds’ (quiet time of reflection/meditation/prayer) each morning. Make the time! It’s important. Start by taking at least 5 refreshing deep breaths. Then in ‘your right mind’, ask yourself some simple questions, like…”Am I happy?”. “Am I healthy?” If you have just asked, “Am I wealthy?” return to the beginning and start the process again…maybe breathing in and out a little deeper. Don’t ‘tek dung’ when the answers come. Simply become non-judgmentally aware of your current realities.


3. Now it is time, after being in your right mind consistently for at least 14 days…consecutively, to start thinking about and visualizing an alternative way of living. Start gradually. Perhaps focus on the more intangible ‘things’ (read less consumer driven), like peace of mind, joy, good health, harmonious family life, quality time with children…the positive things you want to manifest in your life. See them clearly in your refreshed mind’s eye.


4. Then PAUSE for as long as feasible, to bear witness to the joy these thoughts alone bring to your being. Start preparing space and time for your revised livity…and watch it unfold.




6. Once the self and family lifestyle has permeated your psyche, extend the vision outward over the next 30 days until you have visualized your-self, your family, the community, then the whole of Jamaica in harmony. Sound fool fool? Try it nuh, just in case.


7. Once you can see clearly now, because the strain has gone…prepare for the eureka moments, in those quite contemplative moments you have awarded yourself daily, when the penny drops, the big reveals as you catch your-self and determine…there is NO REAL NEED for the item you were about to purchase/order online!


8. CONGRATULATIONS! You are on your way to detachment!


I know it’s not easy. Even when we all know, even when we studied marketing (like myself), the ‘apparent’ need for certain ‘things’, a need created without our ‘knowing’ has becoming overwhelming to many of us. That was the plan. But there is hope. Mass detachment by market force or voluntary detachment by building a better alternative livity.





Label me a ‘rose tinted glasses’ wearer, but I truly believe that we each have to go back to basics, especially in these pivotal times on our plane. Be courageous enough to press the mental refresh button, review our current ‘livity’ then re-define our selves and what is really important to us, from the heart & soul perspective and not the intellect or ego. Given that our perceptions of our world are fed by our thoughts and solidified in our beliefs, surely we have nothing to lose in collectively re-thinking a better reality? Join me in the optimistic visualization of such. A new dimension awaits us all.


P.S. Of course Sarifa Insurance Brokers, with its diversified service offerings, remained intact after the crash, as the vibration emanating from the entity resonated with the new cosmically aligned paradigm. 😉