Cannabis industry open doors in St Vincent and the Grenadines

2

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent — The first set of licences to begin producing medicinal cannabis in St Vincent and the Grenadines were issued last week, while the island’s minister of agriculture and industry, Saboto Caesar, embraced the milestone noting “many challenges amidst immense opportunities.”

The approve medicinal cannabis licences are as follows:

  1. Eight local farmers’ producer cooperatives with an aggregated membership of over 100 traditional cultivators;
  2. Thirteen traditional cultivators of cannabis who applied individually;
  3. Three non-traditional local farmers, consisting of one Class A (valuing EC$500) and two Class B (valuing EC$2,500 each); and
  4. Ten companies with the directorship of nationals from the OECS, CARICOM, North America, Europe and Africa.

Of these companies, there are three Class E licences (valuing EC$2.67 million each), two Class D (valuing EC$1 million each), three Class C (valuing EC$500,000 each), one Class B (valuing EC$250,000 each) and one with Class A (valuing $100,000).

In addition to supplying the local demand, these companies have identified markets in CARICOM, North America and Europe for export of high-quality medicinal cannabis products that meet international standards.

“The journey over the past 20 months to put the legislative and administrative frameworks in place was certainly one of the most difficult, yet gratifying, tasks I have had the opportunity to lead in my career. It was not without major challenges,” minister Caesar said.

The agriculture minister further noted that the step-by-step policy guidance from prime minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, and the significant support received from his Cabinet and parliamentary colleagues at different stages of the preparatory work, contributed to the successful opening of the industry.

The Rastafarian community in St Vincent and the Grenadines was also identified by the minister as a “central pillar of strength” in guiding the interaction over the period of consultation.

The following eight groups and cooperative receiving a cultivation licence:

  1. Nyahbinghy Order of Rastafari
  2. RastafariFarms
  3. Cannabis Revival Committee (CRC)
  4. SVG RastafariAgri
  5. Grieggs Rastafari progressive society
  6. FancyCooperative
  7. Herbs R Us
  8. South Rivers Producers’ Cooperative

The approvals cover applicants to cultivate in the following areas: Peter’s Hope, Rose Hall, Belle Isle, Richmond, Fitz Hughes, Mt Wynne, Mt Bentick, Orange Hill, Langley Park, Gracefield (South Rivers), Byrea, Greiggs, Chapmans, Hadley’s Village and Mt Grenan.

Based on the applications currently under review, it is projected that by September 1, 2019, an additional 200 traditional cultivators will obtain cultivation licences.

The Medicinal Cannabis Authority (MCA) acting on the advice of the Cabinet, will subsequently announce the date for the operationalisation of the Cannabis Cultivation (Amnesty) Act. Sensitization meetings will recommence July 24, 2019, to update the general public of activities taking place within the medicinal cannabis industry.

Throughout the process, religious leaders, civil society and international legal and business experts participated in a very open and transparent consultation process to identify and outline the potential strengths and weaknesses of the different models. This included a reliance on knowledge in certification and commodity trading from companies such as Bunny Imports and Exports of Trinidad and Tobago. The minister stated that the role of Junior “Spirit” Cottle and the Cannabis revival committee could not go unrecognised.

In the interview with News784, minister Caesar was clear that, “the work has just started.” It is our mission in St Vincent and the Grenadines to create a globally certified industry aimed at supplying medicinal cannabis products, targeting ailments based on evidence from clinical studies. The mantra is and will continue to be “A successful medicinal cannabis industry begins and ends with science.”

Stakeholders in the industry were encouraged to set extremely high standards in research and development, marketing, labour relations, environmental protection and general corporate responsibility.

“Surviving with no trade preferences, grappling with the resultant implications of climate change on cannabis cultivation, competing with global producers, effectively regulating the industry to satisfy national and international laws, continuing to ensure food safety and food security, while at the same time balancing many unique variables will become our day to day reality,” minister Caesar outlined.

He however confidently stated that the Unity Labour Party administration does not shy away from challenges. “The successful completion of the Argyle International Airport; the education and housing revolutions; managing the transition from a monocrop to a diversified food production platform; the expansion of our tourism and health infrastructure; obtaining a seat as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council; and geothermal exploration are all evidence that once, as a people, we maintain our focus, we will achieve our goals.”

When asked if he was of the view that cannabis could lead to the establishment of another monocrop, minister Caesar encouraged agriculture and fisheries stakeholders to “guard dearly our successes in the post-hurricane Tomas rebuilding decade. Our exponential growth in fisheries, trade in livestock, food and nutrition security and efforts at food import substitution must all be further nurtured.”

print

2 COMMENTS

  1. THe people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines have to be the most naive dunces around to believe that any of this hype will ever result in a thriving medical marijuana industry.

    Yes, medical marijuana is currently used to treat a number of different conditions such as: Alzheimer’s disease, appetite loss, cancer, Crohn’s disease, eating disorders such as anorexia, epilepsy, glaucoma, mental health conditions like schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), multiple sclerosis, muscle spasms, nausea, pain, and wasting syndrome (cachexia).

    But — and it is a big but — it has not yet been scientifically proven to help most of these conditions, regardless of the promotion of a few mainly anedocal positive results.

    The greatest amount of evidence for the therapeutic effects of cannabis relate to its ability to reduce chronic pain, nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy, and spasticity [tight or stiff muscles] from multiple sclerosis. But the market for this relief could easily be met by existing overseas producers of high quality medical marijuana produced under highly controlled conditions to preclude the cross-pollination of different strains. In short, meeting the market need of the actually treatable diseases can all be done by growing quality medical marijuana in the home countries in which these ailments occur. There is no need nor demand to import any medical marijuana derivatives from SVG.

    Even if this were a viable scheme, where are these traditional growers, none of whom have a clue about how to grow medical-grade marijuana, going to get the millions of dollars in revenue to grow, test, and process a world-class product? Remember, we were forced out of supplying the British market with bananas partly because of the low quality of our produce!

    If we couldn’t freely (i.e., without huge subsidies and trade preferences) compete in the tropical-world international banana industry, how could we possibly compete in the far more technologically and scientifically complex not to mention expensive to establish and maintain medical marijuana industry, an enterprise that can be established anywhere in the world because the highest quality is obtained by growing the plants in tightly controlled indoor facilities to ensure optimal levels of heat, light, humidity, fertilizer and water.

    Moreover, we are far behind other medical marijuana producers, including those in the the Caribbean. The following recent news piece about the medical marijuana industry in Jamaica shows that our industry, not even in its infancy, will never even reach childhood (https://business.financialpost.com/cannabis/cannabis-business/jamaica-cannabis-business?fbclid=IwAR3j5JJKkLvbiDnmiD70tp-USTWVqWtusADx_Jwdqit1bHcoxgHLknagrO4). Jamaica has more land, lower production costs, better infrastructure, real foreign investment, and a far better marijuana reputation.

    At the end of the day — which will only be a short time from now — it will be shown that medical marijuana is an overblown quasi-medical fad that could never enrich anyone in SVG.

  2. The medical label is quite simply a falsity applied to the product to fool the growers into accepting low prices for this new SVG industry.

    The truth is once the product leaves the country and arrives in Canada or the US where marijuana is a legal product now, it’s no longer medical marijuana.

    Huge profits will be reaped off of Vincentian ignorance.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.