St Vincent and the Grenadines on the brink of making medicinal cannabis a legal reality

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Saboto Caesar, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labour in St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Chair of the National Medicinal Cannabis Industry Committee

By Robertson S. Henry

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent — Since the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) took a step toward the establishment of a modern medical cannabis industry, through the tabling of three draft Bills on September 6, 2018, there has been a flurry of legal activity.

Select Committee meetings have been ongoing and have been well attended over the past two weeks in the capital city of Kingstown. At those meetings, which take place in the House of Parliament, both opposition and government members of Parliament, along with representatives of various interested industry groups, have been going over the proposed Bills, covering the various aspects dealing with medicinal, religious, and amnesty amongst others.

That work towards the anticipated approval of the medicinal cannabis legislation is nearing the final stages, with Select Committee meetings expected to be concluded by Friday, October 12, 2018.

A government official has revealed that the three draft Bills are expected to be discussed and passed when Parliament sits during the week of October 15, 2018.

But with all that flurry of legal activity ongoing, what does this mean for the socio-economic development of SVG, whose medicinal cannabis industry is set to flourish with the passage of the Bills, and subsequent implementation of mechanisms to tap into the vast potential of high-grade cannabis?

Passage of the medicinal cannabis Bills, plus support from the government of SVG is expected to position the island as part of a powerful Caribbean hub for medicinal cannabis innovation.

The leadership of agriculture minister Saboto Caesar, along with support from the Cabinet, has driven the legislative reform on medicinal cannabis.

According to the government official: “This government is committed to development of a St Vincent and the Grenadines medicinal cannabis industry, capable of supplying both domestic and international markets.”

SVG has a long history of agriculture production owing to the country’s fertile volcanic soil. The passage of the medicinal cannabis legislation will enable farmers – individually and collectively, in making SVG become a lead producer of organically certified medicinal cannabis, rivalling any in the entire Western Hemisphere.

With the passage of the medicinal cannabis Bills in sight, the government official said, “We will work with doctors, researchers, industry and the relevant agencies to facilitate the development of the industry. Driving the medicinal cannabis industry forward will create jobs, attract investment, and develop a full range of high quality, locally produced medical products to meet patient needs.”

“This industry will establish St Vincent and the Grenadines as a responsible supplier of high quality medicinal cannabis to patients in need, everywhere the world,” he added.

The official noted that, all over the world, the manufacturing of innovative medicinal cannabis products are changing the lives of patients who suffer from many medical conditions that are unresponsive to other treatments.

He pointed out that, with the expected legalisation of medicinal cannabis, SVG is well-placed to develop a medicinal cannabis industry second to none, contributing to the well-being of many persons who may have never heard of the island.

Anticipation in SVG is at a heightened state, as the country is expected to make the historic move towards the establishment of the medicinal cannabis industry this month. Passage of the Bills are expected just a few days before the island celebrates its 39th independence anniversary on October 27, 2018.

However, the government official cautioned that persons must be cognisant that all stages of the process from cultivation to storage to manufacturing, distribution and patient access, will be tightly regulated. This will be done principally through government consumer guidelines.

This is to ensure that all medicinal cannabis products are of a reliable quality available to the patients who need them. All access to medicinal cannabis products will only be available through licensed pharmacists to patients with a prescription from a medical practitioner.

Medicinal cannabis is the broad term for cannabis products that have been legally cultivated or manufactured for medical purposes. This can include medical-grade herbal products or purified pharmaceuticals from extracts of the cannabis sativa plant.

Cannabis plants contain a number of different compounds called cannabinoids and terpenes, which have various effects when introduced into the human body. The main cannabinoids used are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

The government official pointed out that production of medicinal cannabis must and will meet Global-Gap; Eurep-Gap organic (GAP, GMP) standards.

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13 COMMENTS

  1. Medical marijuana production and sale in SVG is certainly not “set to flourish,” as you claim, because many other countries have a huge head start in the industry.

    It is also false to claim that, “The passage of the medicinal cannabis legislation will enable farmers – individually and collectively, in making SVG become a lead producer of organically certified medicinal cannabis, rivalling any in the entire Western Hemisphere” … “owing to the country’s fertile volcanic soil” because nearly any strain of marijuana can be cultivated under different environmental conditions due to the ubiquity and mutability of the plant: indoor and outdoor; high and low altitudes; hot, dry, humid, or cool climates; hydroponically or in various types of soils.

    Marijuana is one of the most biologically adapative of plants which is why it has been cultivated, mainly illegally, around the world for decades. In some regions it has been grown for local consumption for thousands of years.

    SVG has absolutely no advantage in the medical or recreational marijuana markets. None.

  2. Will we be ready for the aftermath of this legalisation? Should we be careful with what we do today? Prof. Robin Murray discovered the link between the use Cannabis and schizophrenia

    The problem with indiscriminate cannabis use explained here by Prof Robin Murray taking note of young people and their risk:

    Robin Murray Environmental risk factors in schizophrenia
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vx8_Yx6uKKg

    In our rush for weed cash will we ever learn from the past? Will we all become dope heads?

    • A “link” (correlation) is not the same as causation, something beyond your comprehension. Also marijuana is not recommended for people who have a history of psychosis which may worsen the condition leading to the “link” you mention.

      Schizophrenia may cause psychosis (though there are other causes) and is just another crazy psychiatric disorder a mile wide and an inch thin in symptoms with no proven causes.

      Meanwhile, we are talking about medical marjuana, not recreational marijuana, which is being used successfully by tens of thousands of people around to the world for pain relief, muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis, naseau because of cancer chemotherapy, poor appetite and weight loss because of AIDS, seizure disorders, Crohn’s disease, etc.

      You are intellectually dishonest to conflate medical marijuana with its recreational use but do not care because you have a hatred for cannabis bordering on paranoia, yet another mental affliction.

  3. How our Government propose to proceed with “Legal cannabis” is through “the tabling of three draft Bills on September 6, 2018.” As noted above, the parties in Parliament “have been going over the proposed Bills, covering the various aspects dealing with medicinal, religious, and amnesty amongst others.”

    Medical cannabis is all well and good, but the worrying aspect of the widespread legal growing and distribution of Cannabis here, would no doubt present the nation with severe, perhaps insurmountable problems, were cannabis growth to become so widespread as bananas are and illicit cannabis use were to become commonplace among the young in our nation.

    It is my view that our Government is playing fast and loose with the potential ill health of many here in our nation, as it employs this ruse of the tabling of these three draft Bills on cannabis. Its actions are grossly immoral as it, and its cronies, seek to profit from what may well be many ruined lives.

    There is most certainly no need for me or anyone to engage in futile polemical arguments with a known lunatic on the subject of the harm, that cannabis use may cause here, as these facts have been very well noted previously.

    https://www.caribbeannewsnow.com/2018/03/01/commentary-churches-concerned-governments-approach-medical-marijuana/

    Further, it is now a known and proven fact too, that those who have engaged in cannabis use, perhaps at a very young age, have a very, very high likelihood, of experiencing an altered state of mind.

    https://www.caribbeannewsnow.com/2018/03/11/letter-why-svgs-matthew-thomas-is-dead-wrong-about-marijuana/

    So as our Government set about to proceed with its immoral “Legal cannabis” Bills, one needs cast one’s mind back to the Opium Dens of the 19th Century and the harm they caused, mainly in China, Southeast Asia, the UK, North America and France, before they were made illegal and closed down.

    The British came to the opinion that Opium was a dangerous opiate. “The Pharmacy Act of 1868” in the UK, recognised all forms of dangerous drugs and limited their sale only to registered Chemist and pharmacists. Nevertheless, it was not until the end of the 19th Century before doctors generally and scientists began to warn about the dangers of such drug addiction to opiate substances.

    A few years later in San Francisco, an ordinance in 1875 sought to ban all Opium dens in the state, and in the early 20th century many large bonfires were started, fuelled by confiscated opium and opium paraphernalia, these were made throughout the state, where public debates were held on the dangers of opium use. While in New York, that city’s last known Opium Den was raided on the 28th June 1957 and closed down for good.

    It is therefore important to note that while our Government and their cronies have championed this anticipated “medical marijuana cash”, one Bill also makes for legitimate Cannabis use for religious purposes, this can only be a glaring de facto ruse for wide spread dangerous marijuana usage in our country.

    The immoral irony of the whole situation is this, that we have a Prime Minister who claims to be a practising Christian and who is being urged through received scripture, at Jude 3, “…..to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints..”

    I am therefore inclined to ask our Prime Minister which is “the faith” he is contending for? And has he not read at 1 Timothy 2: 5-6 “ For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time,….” Why therefore would a Christian promote false Religion? Expediency and greed no doubt. A like affliction of Judas Iscariot suffered.

    • Comparing marijuana — which is not an opiate– to opium is nonsensical as is your obsession with comdemining a relatively harmless substance that has been cultivated and used by mankind for thousands of years.

      Every day, 150 Americans die from an opiate overdose but none from a marijuana overdose (https://chapterscapistrano.com/is-marijuana-an-opiate/).

      Having been rightly excoriated for your hysterical and unscientific opposition to marijuana, now you want to bring the wrath of God down on all those who support your debunked minority views. Idiot!

  4. It is quite obviously that marijuana is not a relatively harmless substance as these research of Prof. Robin Murray and his colleagues have so often demonstrated and regardless whether cannabis is an opiate or not, one thing is for sure, as Robin Murray and colleagues have also shown, it can scramble the brain like a fried egg, especially in young users.

    Why and how does the brain gets scrambled is also now well documented by Robin Murray and may I say, we do not at all have to look very far for such evidence here, do we now? Paranoid Schizophrenia is a common side effect with the long term use of Cannabis.

    Indeed, some side effects from smoking Cannabis range from anxiety and paranoia, to problems with attention, memory and coordination. Stoned drivers are twice as likely to crash their cars, than unimpaired drivers. Moreover, like Opium, people can become dependent on the drug. For sure mental health problems are one of the greatest concern with long term users of cannabis as Robin Murray have shown.

    Studies suggest that one in ten regular cannabis users become dependent on the drug, or one in six of those who start use in their mid-teens. Moreover, the number of people seeking professional help to quit or control their cannabis habit, has risen steadily in the past twenty years in Europe, the USA and Australia. It is also noted that people in withdrawal can experience anxiety, insomnia, depression and a disrupted appetite.

    The British National Health Service (NHS) note:
    https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/cannabis-the-facts/

    And Inspire Malibu
    https://www.inspiremalibu.com/blog/drug-addiction/11-negative-side-effects-of-using-marijuana/

    Now I repeat as noted above, the parties in Parliament “have been going over the proposed Bills, covering the various aspects dealing with medicinal, religious, and amnesty amongst others.”

    Therefore, it is the Government and its Prime Minister in this instance, who have first introduced religion into these debates. This fact is very pertinent for us here in SVG, for this very reason, that our Prime Minister tells us that he is a Christian. But is he really?

    Christians subscribe to a belief systems often called the Christian Creed. Some of those beliefs are the ideas of there being only one God and that the man Jesus, he being that very God. For our Prime Minister to now contend for another religious belief system, tells us much about him, as Christians are required to “contend for the faith” not “a faith”.

    Those facts indicate to me, that our Prime Minister is not at all a Christian and that these three Parliamentary bills are nothing but an immoral ruse, designed by him to serve his own financial and political ends, and which may well bring harm to us as a nation, in the long run.

  5. When describing the substance known as marijuana, “a relatively harmless substance” is the phrase used by C.ben-David. However, with headlines like this one, “Smoking Cannabis may boost your risk of stroke by cutting off blood supply to the brain, Scientists say” it is therefore very hard to see how such a description could be arrived at.
    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-6294179/Smoking-cannabis-boost-risk-stroke-cutting-blood-supply-brain.html
    “Stroke increase by 15% among marijuana users between 2010 and 2014.” Why the increase? “Compounds known as cannabinoids in marijuana may cause blood vessels in the brain to narrow, triggering a stroke, the scientists said.”

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