By Melanius Alphonse
Caribbean News Now associate managing editor
BASSETERRE, St Kitts – The arrest of Alki David by the anti-narcotics unit of the Royal St Christopher and Nevis Police Force (RSCNPF) at RLB International Airport on May 9, 2019, on three warrants for drug importation, possession and intent to supply, “stemmed from a misunderstanding about the shipment [products] and its legality.” In the interim, the arrival of a cadre of attorneys in St Kitts Sunday, alongside medical and human rights concern is expected to gather international attention, according to a source familiar with the state of affairs.
The products in question include hemp clone plants, hemp seeds and Swissx CBD oil products—all legal, non-THC plant medicines, which is used for therapeutic purposes. The purpose of the “controversial cargo” by billionaires David and Chase Ergen of Swissx Labs in Switzerland, is based on “purchasing agricultural land and partnering with farmers to create a cooperative entity modelled after the ones in Switzerland.”
David appeared in court the following day and was released on cash bail of $30,000, $50,000 in two sureties, ordered to surrender all travel documents and ordered to report to Frigate Bay police station daily.
The Swissx team recognizes the need for proper education on the burgeoning CBD industry for business to prosper.
“We’ve asked Prime Minister [Timothy] Harris to sit down and coordinate support efforts before we leave next week for meetings in Dominica and other Caribbean island nations that have shown great interest in our cooperative partnership. Swissx is already working with local farmers and businessmen to build a fair and robust cooperative system and have been moved by both their knowledge of the crop and enthusiasm for its pending legalization,” a Swissx statement said.
In parliament Thursday, May 9, the Harris administration presented the Cannabis Bill, 2019, which provides for the regulation and control of cannabis for religious use, by documented members of registered religious organizations; to uphold the constitutional rights afforded to each citizen of Saint Christopher and Nevis; to establish the Saint Christopher and Nevis Medicinal Cannabis Authority whose functions will be described herein; to authorize medicinal and alternative health practitioners to recommend medicinal cannabis; to establish scientific research protocol for medicinal cannabis but to establish a licensing structure and complete tracking system for medicinal cannabis businesses.
While providing the legal framework relating to the cultivation and use of marijuana in St Kitts and Nevis, National Assembly Harris said:
“We have been reliably informed that certain international business predators and pirates aided by unsavoury local elements are positioning themselves to venture into plant cultivation to the detriment of locals, particularly our Rastafarians bredrin. And some of the actors are seen in photo ops recently with unpatriotic persons with a checkered past who see the freeing up of the herb in St Kitts and Nevis as an opportunity for them to profit at the expense of our local people. Misguided local operatives are promising land giveaways of up to 300 acres to their friends and associates.”
“I would be among those who say that this is a reformist and enlightened piece of legislation that appropriately responds to the popular will of our population but in some ways the Bill, which we are bringing approximate similar international developments have gone before us in terms of legislation in the USA, in Canada and Europe,” Harris continued.
“While countries before us, for example Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda and St Vincent and the Grenadines, have passed their version of the Cannabis Bills, our bill, when it goes through Committee Stage, will grant legislative approval for and regulate the use of cannabis for medicinal, for religious and recreational purposes,” he said.
However, no reference was made that the government of St Kitts and Nevis was given a time frame as of Friday [May 3] by a High Court judge Justice Eddy Ventose to amend the drug laws in the twin-island federation after determining at least two provisions of the Drugs Act were unconstitutional concerning possession and cultivation.
While the Harris government is expected to make a full statement on David and Chase Ergen of Swissx Labs, matter, cannabis legalization and the investment climate, Harris has warned that “non-nationals would not be permitted to secure advantages over our nationals as we set about to build out a marijuana industry and urged citizens to be “watchful and wary of any person(s) seeking to consort with international operatives to rob us of our patrimony.”
On Monday, May 13, David and Chase Ergen of Swissx Labs scheduled press conference will continue to champion the health properties of CDB and its economic advantage to the Caribbean, said in a statement, “the CBD hemp company in St Kitts and Nevis is modelled after the massive economic development success the State of Kentucky is enjoying in America from the CBD hemp industry.”
“It is with great respect for the people of St Kitts and Nevis and the country’s sovereignty that Alki David, Swissx and their partners are working to make sure the island takes its rightful place as a leader in the world’s fastest growing industry, legal CBD hemp.”
“The major advantage Alki David’s Swissx brings to the amazing people of St Kitts and Nevis is guaranteed off-take for CBD hemp production at fair wholesale market pricing. Everybody wins and wins big.
“Our intention is to work with government, the courts, the banks, the business sector and the farmers to develop a fair system that creates thousands of jobs on the island but uses Swissx’s international distribution network to make St Kitts and Nevis cannabis products among the most sought after in the world.
“It is our intention to quickly see a surge in the nation’s GDP that will benefit everyone. This is an economic development initiative for raising the quality of life in conjunction with local St Kitts Caribbean partners.”
Ken Richards and WINN FM contributed to this report.