On Monday November 19, 2018, an extensive presentation was made by Professor David Berry of the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus.
Professor Bury is one of the foremost regional authorities on international law, and his presentation covered the international legal obligations of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Speaking of the Select Committee Sitting on Monday and Tuesday November 19 and 20, 2018 respectively, Minister of Agriculture Saboto Caesar: “We would have peruse these documents again, but coming from the authority was definitely reassuring, that the jurisprudence that we are seeking to evolve here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, that it would fall within the prisms, and will not be ultra vires to our treaty obligations, and the obligations that we have pursuant to several narcotic conventions and treaties.”
Professor Bury’s presentation took up a large amount of the time on Monday, and went into Tuesday 20th, and as a result, the Select Committee was unable to conclude in time for the Sitting of Parliament on November 20th, so a new date of December 10th was now scheduled.
Minister Caesar added that “We have been polishing certain areas, getting other presentations, because persons are seeking clarity on some issues. We have canvassed a lot of issues and is always good for even when the drafters have done the work for some of the policy explanations to be done.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Ralph Gonsalves, gave clarity to some niggling issues since the debate on the medicinal cannabis industry began. Dr. Gonsalves gave the assurance to local cannabis farmers, that the medicinal cannabis industry would not become a reality unless local traditional cultivators can make a good dollar from the activity.
Speaking on Monday morning November 19, 2018 at the Select Committee Sitting, Dr. Gonsalves warned potential investors that no licence would be issued to anyone who applies for one to simply raise money as an entrepreneur.
He cautioned potential investors to “Raise your money and come to the table. The Government does not borrow money from people to plant oranges. Why must we borrow money to help the traditional farmer to plant medical cannabis? So it has to be a relation with the private sector entity.”
There is a need for foreign investors, who according to Prime Minister Gonsalves, would help with the provision of technology appropriate for the medicinal cannabis industry.
These investors would also provide “resources for the capital investment in cultivation for medical grade marijuana and extraction among other things.”
Prime Minister Gonsalves further stated that the medicinal cannabis project would fail if the investors do not appreciate the necessity and desirability for them to interface with traditional growers.
Prime Minister Gonsalves went on to state: “It is important that I make that with crystal clarity, it will not happen unless the local traditional cultivator can make a good dollar from the activity.
“It does not mean that the authority would not grant you a licence for your own cultivation but clearly you are going to be required as a condition of the license to buy a certain portion of whatever medical cannabis you are buying from traditional cultivators because they have to make a living from it too,” the St. Vincent and the Grenadines government leader stated while addressing the Select Committee.
The Vincentian Leader said that “The idea of building a marijuana industry based on local consumption, and tourists coming here, we would at best have a cottage industry.
“We are dealing with primarily an export industry. It can’t be otherwise, given all the circumstances.”
The Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, according to Prime Minister Gonsalves has a clear idea how it wishes to proceed, and that the industry has its own peculiarity, and is unlike others such as the banana and tourism industries, respectively. (Robertson S. Henry)