Despite the overwhelming challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic and their impact on the progress of the local Medicinal Cannabis Industry, milestones continue to be achieved. This as the first Medicinal Cannabis Pharmacy, Green Lava Labs Pharmacy, launched operations on Wednesday, December 23, 2020 at its location on Bentick Square, Kingstown.
Delivering remarks at the opening ceremony, Operation Manager of Green Lava (SVG) Inc., Mr. Hilton Dalzell, thanked the Government and the MCA for its cooperation and support thus far and informed that the pharmacy will offer a suite of medicinal cannabis products that will aid both local and visiting qualifying patients with their medical needs. Mr. Dalzell also noted that, in retrofitting the facility, only Vincentian workers and contractors were employed.
Providing an industry update, Chief Executive Officer Dr. Jerrol Thompson noted that Green Lava (SVG) Inc. is one of a number of companies that has received a license to engage in medicinal cannabis cultivation and is the first to establish a medicinal cannabis dispensary in SVG.
Dr. Thompson added that the MCA has facilitated training for over 90 medical doctors, pharmacists as well as veterinarians in the medical use of cannabis and that he was pleased to see that one of those pharmacists has been engaged by Green Lava.
To gain authorization to commence dispensing of medicinal cannabis, the CEO noted that the company has been working closely with the MCA Technical officers and has satisfied the stipulated requirements: it is a registered pharmacy with the SVG Pharmacy Council; It has a licensed pharmacist with authorization to dispense medicinal cannabis, and it has secure retail and inventory areas (security cameras).
Speaking on the recent approval by the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) to remove cannabis from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, Dr. Thompson explained that, for almost 60 years, cannabis has been confined in a category that was never recognized as having any medical benefits.
He further explained that, over the same period, Rastafarians across the world and in SVG, have been telling us that cannabis does have some medical properties, and this has been evidenced by a growing number of studies showing cannabis as having a tremendous value in various areas such as pain management, anxiety, and mental conditions.
In concluding, the CEO stated that the MCA Technical team and Inspectorate department will continue to provide oversight to ensure that the pharmacy is managed according to the requisite regulations and that all cannabis products in the pharmacy are tested and are safe for human consumption.
Meanwhile, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labour, Hon. Saboto Caesar, in congratulating the staff of the MCA for its continued work, stated that it is the quest of the government to establish a modern, medical, wellness industry of which cannabis will play a primary part as a central pillar.
He divulged that the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has started conversations with companies within the private sector in West Africa where they have indicated their interest in working with the government and people of Ghana to explore the pharmacology and science of many of the plants which were brought to the Vincentian shores by the people of Ghana.
Minister Caesar stated that it is the hope and intention of the government to be a destination of a well- planned, structured, and conceived, local nutraceutical industry. In extending a warm welcome to Green Lava Labs in the pharmaceutical field, he urged them to execute a well-organized business which he said comes from understanding the regulations of the industry. He added that it is important for Green Lava labs to continue its good relations with the MCA.
Stressing on the importance of ‘quality’, Technology Specialist within the MCA, Dr. Jean-Saville Cummings, said that products which are produced for sick patients must be of the highest quality and must be prescribed and dispensed in a manner that produces the greatest medical benefit to the patient.
Dr. Cummings, in extending congratulatory remarks to Green Lava labs, further indicated that it is the expectation of the MCA that the company will continue to operate in keeping with the industry’s regulations.
Green Lava Labs Pharmacy is located in Kingstown, on Bentick Square, opposite the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital. Five locally registered pharmacies, having met the requisite legal requirements, were recently approved by the Cabinet for a license to dispense medicinal cannabis.