Last Friday September 10, 2021, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves led a delegation comprising members of the Cabinet, officials of the MCA and the media on a tour of several medicinal cannabis facilities. The tour spanned Kingstown to Spring and covered all the stages of the industry.
The Prime Minister stated that establishing the medicinal cannabis industry followed a comprehensive process “from concept to policy to law in Parliament to regulations, to investment to roll out and the tour showed what all this practical work is leading to.”
The first stop was in the suburbs of Kingstown, where drying, packaging and storage of medicinal cannabis took place in a specially retrofitted facility. Following was a stop at a recently opened dispensary pharmacy in Kingstown whose medicinal cannabis products are geared towards the treatment of persons with qualifying medical conditions stipulated in the Act. The third stop was at a manufacturing facility in Arnos Vale which is equipped with significant extraction capacity and is on track to become operational in the third quarter of 2021.
The tour moved to the newly opened public-private partnership Caribbean Gold Standard laboratory at the MCA’s headquarters at Rivulet, “which will do all the certification for the various products to ensure that they meet international standards, which the standards embedded in the regulations are made under the Act” PM Gonsalves stated.
The next visit was a farm situated in Enhams, where the delegation observed a number of sophisticated greenhouses and employees engaged in seed planting, cloning of various cannabis plant strains and the transfer of plants from the greenhouses to the fields. The tour concluded at a manufacturing facility in Spring where dried cannabis is being processed into oil and finished products are being developed.
PM Gonsalves reported that the industry is at the stage of entering the business of export and several companies are involved. He said that while we haven’t visited all the facilities, “we have seen enough to tell us that as a plank in our economic diversification process, to create jobs and to create wealth, foreign exchange and to do so not with unlimited supplies of cheap labor but with unlimited supplies of knowledge – scientific knowledge which is a very important model in development.”
The Prime Minister expressed high commendation to Minister Saboto Caesar for his astute leadership in the establishment of the industry and stated that it “is a venture which was worthy of the effort of the government, the public servants, the parliament, and all the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, including the traditional farmers who are also part of an important chain in this enterprise.”
The Medicinal Cannabis Industry in St. Vincent and the Grenadines has attracted over $20 million in investments, which financed infrastructure set-up and production activities and in doing so, provided income for over 200 Vincentians.
Presently, close to 100 persons are employed in cultivation, transportation, drying, packaging, storing, and manufacturing activities. A significant amount of the persons employed are young women and young men, while traditional cultivators are playing a leading role on several farms as master growers.