After confirming the details of a report that Barbados has sealed a deal with foreign investors intending to develop a medical cannabis industry there worth one billion dollars, it has come to light that these very investors were right here in Saint Lucia early this year for months intending to do the very same, with no success. After being disappointed by the negotiations conducted here with our Government, the investors sought out other islands in the region to float their project. As a result, they ended up in Barbados where they met with the Rastafarian community, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Agriculture and the AG, who wasted no time to seal the deal. So once again, yet another prime Minister of the region, in this case, PM Mia Motley has had the courage to use her power to make the necessary amendments to their cannabis laws in order to accommodate the industrial development of the cannabis plant. Please note that although Saint Vincent has been toying with the idea for years, Antigua, Saint Kitts and Barbados were not on the cannabis stage a year ago, but were able in little time to throw their hat in the ring and enter the trillion dollar world medical cannabis industry. The Prime Ministers of those islands used their powers to make the decision themselves. Remember, medical cannabis is not ganja, not marijuana, it does not have a psyco active effect if consumed and is as benign or harmless as vegetables. So for reasons unknown to us, we missed that opportunity. The Government failed to bring a much needed project to our nation that could have brought agriculture back to where it could make a significant contribution to the country’s socio economic development, providing thousands of jobs for young unemployed people, creating a filter up economic model that would literally grow the GDP of our country. The market is growing at a rapid pace and it is important that we get in at the ground floor. To our knowledge, there are several other similar project proposals sitting on the Prime Ministers desk waiting for approval. We encourage the Prime Minister to step in at this crucial time and make the required decisions immediately to avoid this very situation to be repeated. Certain steps MUST be taken as soon as possible in order for us benefit economically from this industry.
1 There must be a moratorium on incarceration.
2. There MUST be an amnesty for people languishing in prison for cannabis offences.
3. Hemp must be removed from the Misuse of Drugs Act.
4. Cannabis must be rescheduled from a Schedule 2 Class A substance to a Schedule 2 Class C substance.
5. Cannabis crimes must be expunged from criminal records.
6. The National Educational program must be rolled as soon as possible, and
7. The Government must address the nation on these developments, and in that address, there must be an apology to the Rastafarian community.
The drafting of a Cannabis Act and the development of all the regulations that will be contained in the Act can take place over the coming months, but the Government must act now. We have lost one golden opportunity, let us not lose another one. The nation eagerly awaits an announcement.