Historic day for St Vincent Parliament with medical marijuana debate

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Acres Agri executives attends the historic sitting of St Vincent and the Grenadines Parliament on Monday December 10, 2018

By Robertson S. Henry

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent — The St Vincent and the Grenadines Parliament met in session on Monday, with top of the order paper for debate, being The Medicinal Cannabis Industry Bill 2018, and the Cannabis Cultivation (Amnesty) Bill 2018.

A third bill – the Permitted Use of Cannabis for Religious Purpose Bill 2018 – was shelved because, according to prime minister and leader of government business, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, the Rastafarian community had made pertinent representations on the use of cannabis for religious purposes.

In presenting the Bills, minister for agriculture, Saboto Caesar, told the House that the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of countries has 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.

There was plenty of cross talk, especially when opposition parliamentarian Patel Mathews took to the microphone. He reiterated an earlier 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.

Senator Carlos James reminded members of the statement that he made in the House five years ago that the new international airport could spur on a cannabis industry. He went on to state that, through extensive research, cannabis is now proven to be containing valuable medicinal properties.

James called for the conversation outside the walls of Parliament to continue

During his turn at the microphone, leader of the opposition, Dr Godwin Friday, spoke of the changing international environment and its effect on small island states.

Opposition Member of Parliament Sinclair Leacock pointed out that many were misled about marijuana in times past, and he disagreed with Minister Camillo Gonsalves’ statement earlier this year that marijuana, stripped of its illegality, is just another crop.

He 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 that will affect the traditional cultivator.

Minister of lands, Montgomery Daniel, told the Sitting that the chief surveyor, upon request, gave him the list of pieces of government owned lands. The total acreage of lands is approximately 3,500 acres.

Daniel also gave members an outline of the various classes of licenses available in the Medicinal Cannabis Bill, and the benefits that could be derived when the arrowroot industry is combined with the medicinal industry. He informed members that arrowroot powder is the base used in many pharmaceuticals, and St Vincent and the Grenadines is poised to take full advantage of such a combination.

The debate on the draft Medicinal Cannabis Industry Bill 2018, and the Cannabis Cultivation (Amnesty) Bill 2018, respectively was expected to conclude on Tuesday when the Sitting resumes.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. For sure the St Vincent and the Grenadines government had put before parliament these very contentious issues in “The Medicinal Cannabis Industry Bill 2018, and the Cannabis Cultivation (Amnesty) Bill 2018”. And as one individual commenting on the issue recently puts it, “SVG is not like the Vatican.” Indicating that moral issues are best left to the Churches and not to Governments.

    Nevertheless, it would appear peculiarly most bizarre, when a declared vegetarian becomes the principal exponent, advocate and promoter of meat products such as Beef and Hamburgers. What therefore are we to make of such curious behaviour? Are we not inclined to question the behaviour as insincerity or an outright scam in that declaration of exclusive vegetarianism?

    Quite apart from that! Good morality, must form the basis of any governmental policy, and traditionally, governments have served us best, when the basis of their active moral code was that of the Ten Commandments, as is found in the Christian Bible.

    It is observed that Governments who have departed from such codes of conduct or those who have never implement such, as history will recall, have served their peoples very, very badly. Sadly for the world, the Karl Marxian doctrine, that was so popular in the recent past, rejects even the very idea of a God. So for its adherents to acknowledge the Biblical “Ten Commandments” as a God given code of conduct, is clearly an anathema to them.

    Yet the Ten Commandments remains the best, foremost and unsurpassed moral code for the government of any human groupings, especially when such groupings are organised in the form of an ordered society. That is not to say that societies are best organised under any religion, far from it.

    In these new Cannabis laws, our SVG government have clearly jettisoned all attempt at a moral approach to good governmental behaviour. This is because of its own and its supporters questionable self-interest.

    This is particularly so since knowing that Cannabis has the potential to cause harm, especially to the young, harm to young people who are least able to make rational decisions, our government and its leadership, now proposes for the extensive growing, export and use of marijuana in St Vincent and the Grenadines. Marijuana which is a plant that the government itself knows can cause harm.

    According to the “Ten Commandments”, as we already love ourselves the same love must be extended to one’s neighbours, and one’s neighbour could be said to be all those persons who can be reasonably foreseeably, that are likely to be affected by one’s action. Sadly however, an immoral government will never ever be concerned with such moral or egalitarian constraints!

    In this, our Government’s own questionable morality, it could be said, is therefore, what is under severe scrutiny and not the morality of the Church or its members, who have objected to the passing of these Parliamentary Bills.

    For sure the doctrines and views of the established Churches in St Vincent and the Grenadines are not what is in question here as the Christian view is for all Vincentians to love God and to love their neighbours as they loves themselves.

    Therefore, were members of our existing government to adhere to such laudable sentiments, they would not let the idea of the much profit that are said to be obtainable from the growing and processing of the marijuana plant here, skewer their distinct approach to marijuana or Cannabis.

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