(PRESS RELEASE) – On April 9th, 2021, the La Soufrière volcano in St Vincent and the Grenadines, erupted disrupting every sector of the country’s economy including the newly developing Medical Cannabis Industry.
The country which recently passed the Medical Cannabis Industry laws has, in this respect, pinning much of its hope on the participation of the small traditional cultivators whose primary source of livelihood has been the cultivation of cannabis. The growers accepted the challenge and decided to partake in the process.
The President of the Cannabis Revival Committee, Junior Spirit Cottle, states “We had become wearied of having to hide our livelihood, often losing our loved ones as a result”. Cottle further stated that “we participated in the cannabis industry investing everything we got, and were excited with the prospects that we were going to be legal, and therefore what we earned weren’t going to run the risk of being confiscated by the authorities”. “Now, we have lost everything, and are facing extreme hardship”, he added.
With such a setback, the small traditional cannabis cultivators are fearful that they may not be given equal attention in the rebuilding process. The Caribbean Fairtrade Working Group (CFWG) and the Cannabis Revival Committee (CRC) of St Vincent and the Grenadines are, therefore, calling attention to the plight of the traditional cannabis cultivators of the island as the country faces the double edges of the COVID pandemic and now the violent eruption of the La Soufrière volcano.
Several crops including cannabis crops have been destructed since many grow on the slopes of La Soufriere for lacking access to other land and by extension, the livelihood of these persons is currently under serious threat.
The small traditional cannabis cultivators have recently been recognized through the establishment of an Amnesty Law in the cultivation of cannabis. However, the Amnesty structure is not yet completely functional, only now to be affected significantly by these disastrous events, after living through years of prohibition actions.
The Working Group and the CRC is therefore calling on the support of our international partners and the SVG government to assist the recovery of the small cannabis cultivators and to give the farmers the same attention as any other industry in the country. This special attention is needed as many of the traditional cultivators have lost all that they have grown and their homes have been devastated by the volcanic eruption, and as such they are unable to now feed their families.
It is important that the small traditional cannabis cultivators get this special assistance as they are currently striving to develop an inclusive medical cannabis industry that will facilitate the rebuilding of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, after the pandemic and the volcano.