By Conley ‘Chivambo’ Rose
Indeed, times are changing. The once despised and illegal cannabis would soon become legal in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, through the introduction of the Medicinal Cannabis Bill, 2018.
What does legalized cannabis mean in St. Vincent and the Grenadines?
Even though cannabis use has been relatively common in St. Vincent and the Grenadines for over 50 years, with Vincentians smoking and boiling the leaves for various medical reasons.
Legalization however, represents a major shift in public policy that can be expected to have a broad impact on Vincentians’ life and living.
The most important challenge to developing the cannabis industry of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is to establish ownership of the different strains of cannabis grown and produced on the island for over five decades.
In this regard, there is need for a cannabis research and development unit to conduct research on the potential and therapeutic medical properties of cannabis to determine the ownership of the intellectual property rights of the different strains of cannabis produced, to make medicinal products branded with the Vincy label and exported to niche markets abroad.
The objective is to protect the rights of traditional cannabis growers on the island, including the indigenous and original Vincentian strains of cannabis, through the application of rigorous international scientific methods and standards of testing and professional product development to adhere to the strict international compliance standards for medical cannabis medicine.
The Medicinal Cannabis Bill should take into consideration that patients with chronic pain should have access to cannabis capsules, liquids, cannabis oils, chewable and effervescent tablets, lozenges, tropical lotions, ointments and cannabis patches for use with their ailments.
The Medicinal Cannabis Bill, 2018 should aim to help the persons whom the “War on Drugs” hurt most – through oppression, persecution, victimization, astigmatism, marginalization and social exclusion and they should be given priority.
Persecuted persons should be able to apply to the cannabis Authority for a grant to assist minority cannabis entrepreneurs in various ways, such as waiving licence fees and providing technical assistance in good, organic cannabis cultivation practices.
The Medicinal Cannabis Bill should provide aid to “individuals disproportionately affected by the criminalization of cannabis”. The law should reduce barriers to entry and ensure all Vincentians have a fair chance at becoming successful in the rapidly growing cannabis market place.
The Medicinal Cannabis Bill has to take into consideration past cannabis convictions of offenders under prohibition law and draft a progressive legislation with a social conscience to include social justice for all. The Bill should provide expungement of past records for offenses that would no longer be considered a crime under the new policy.
The Medicinal Cannabis Bill, 2018 should grant priority licencing and community reinvestment for individuals and communities who have been directly impacted by prohibition policies and reinforcement of the “Dangerous Drug Act”.
This is Cannabis Time!