By Ernesto Cooke
The government of St Vincent and the Grenadines on Tuesday 11th December 2018 successfully passed the Medicinal Cannabis Bill 2018.
The passing of the bill now paves the way for the Medicinal Cannabis Industry to begin taking shape, as SVG hopes to create history in the cultivation of Medicinal Cannabis and Research.
For the bill to become law it must be accented to by the Governor General who is the Queen’s representative here in St Vincent.
This is a monumental victory and time of celebration for the Vincentian traditional farmer who have long hailed the medicinal use of cannabis.
On Monday 10th December, Parliament met in session debating the Medicinal Cannabis Industry Bill 2018, and the Cannabis Cultivation (Amnesty) Bill 2018.
The third bill – the Permitted Use of Cannabis for Religious Purpose Bill 2018, was shelved for, according to Prime Minister and Leader of Government Business Dr. the Honourable Ralph Gonsalves, the Rastafarian community made pertinent representation on the use of cannabis for religious purposes.
In presenting the Bills, Minister for Agriculture Saboto Caesar, told the House Sitting ACP countries have been grappling with agriculture production for many years.
He noted that cannabis cultivation, as an addition to the list of agricultural products from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, is a positive expansion of the country’s agricultural sector and that there is an opening for a modern medicinal cannabis industry.
Opposition parliamentarian Honourable Patel Mathews took to the microphone. He reiterated the earlier made statement that it was a historic day for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and the day’s sitting presented a unique opportunity to fashion an industry, where the traditional cultivators would be major players.
Health Minister Senator Luke Brown spoke extensively on the health issues and functions of the Advisory Board within the Bill.
Opposition member St Clair Leacock chided the government for being too cautious, and took swipes at the government for the absence of clarity on the make-up of the four committee members on the Board.
He questioned the absence of the traditional cultivator on the Board, and that there are persons on the Board who are not producers; making decisions which will affect the traditional cultivator.
Minister of Lands Honourable Montgomery Daniel told the House Sitting that the Chief Surveyor, upon a request, gave him the list of pieces of government owned lands. The total acreage of lands is approximately 3,500 acres.
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said the bill covers traditional farmers, along with making sure young persons are not criminalize for small quantities.
The Prime Minister noted that it interesting that the Opposition doesn’t support smoking cannabis, but is in support of recreational cannabis.