(By Sean Rose) – St. Vincent and the Grenadines is on a path to establish a modern medicinal cannabis industry.
A trained attorney specializing in legislative drafting- Mrs Petrona Sealey-Browne has provided support to the initial consultative process on some possibilities regarding the crafting of a homegrown piece of legislation to establish the Industry and to address ancillary matters.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines has historically been regarded by some neighbouring Islands as the exporter of cannabis illegally.
The globally evolving medicinal cannabis industry has provided a lucrative opportunity for producers, manufacturers and exporters to re-think environmentally unsustainable methodologies and embrace practices throughout the value chain which has the potential of benefiting all stakeholders.
The issue of deforestation from cannabis mountainside cultivation has negatively impacted on downstream activities; habitats for many endemic species; and has proven to be the major cause of significant landslides along the island’s mountain ranges.
Local, regional and international entrepreneurs have shown a keen interest in the establishment of investment in both production and marketing medicinal cannabis.
Hon. Saboto Caesar, the island’s Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labour and Chair of the National Medicinal Cannabis IndustryCommittee highlighted that the first overall objective is the establishment of a medical industry which will explore not only extracts from cannabis but also other plants which possess medical properties.
When asked what exactly the legislation will look like, Min. Caesar noted, “I do not wish at this point to preempt the legal advisors and comments which will emanate from consultations on the issue but will note that the quest is to establish a thriving medicinal cannabis industry with equity for all stakeholders, reflecting both the social and environmental responsibility needed.”
The issue of medical cannabis has risen in importance over the last decade for discussion in the hemisphere with the United States of America and Canada blazing the trail on developing Industries in different States and Provinces.
It is anticipated that there will be a widespread consultation over the upcoming months on the subject matter of what will be the best platform for a medicinal cannabis industry in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
These discussions will address the decriminalization of the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes in exceptional circumstances.
Other issues to be addressed include the establishment of an eligibility criteria identifying the diseases and medical symptoms for which access to medicinal cannabis by a patient may be authorized by a medical doctor; the provision of the procedure for registration and regulation of medical doctors who would wish to authorize the use of medicinal cannabis in relation to their patients whose diagnosis fall within the eligibility criteria; and the prescription for the role of the medical doctor in managing the use of medical cannabis by patients.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines with the aid of local farmers and foreign investors can become the epicentre of the Caribbean’s medical cannabis industry.
The Global Medical Cannabis Market is expected to reach a value of 55.8 billion US by 2025, and the Cannabis Industry as a whole is expected to outpace jobs in manufacturing by 2020.
Europe is set to become the largest cannabis market in the World within the next five years with a market of over 739 million people, and a healthcare spending of € 1.49 trillion.