(CNS) The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) Government is pressing ahead with plans to get its share of the globally evolving medicinal marijuana industry.
Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Indar Weir said the recently elected administration intends to develop an industry here from the growing of ganja and other plants.
“I must share with you my Government’s intention to make provision for the production of marijuana and other plans for medical purposes,” Weir said this morning in his feature address at the annual accountability seminar organized by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture and held in the Ministry of Agriculture conference room at Graeme Hall, Christ Church.
“Indeed, more and more countries are passing laws providing for the use of marijuana as a medicine to treat a range of medical complaints, including headaches, muscle spasm, nausea from cancer chemotherapy, poor appetite and nerve pain,” he said.
Weir said the authorities would monitor the drug to discourage rampant misuse, as it remained illegal in some countries.
However, he said there were such economic benefits to be derive from weed that it was an agenda item at the upcoming Caribbean Community (CARICOM) meeting next month.
“Across the region, marijuana has emerged as an issue of social and economic significance and will become a subject for discussion at the upcoming CARICOM summit to be held in July 2018. I know that St Vincent and the Grenadines has legalized marijuana while Jamaica has decriminalized small quantities as well as made provision for research. Indeed, my team here at the ministry is currently engaged in the preparation of a comprehensive paper on the benefits of medical plants and the potential value chain to be derived from them,” Weir said.
St Vincent and the Grenadines has established a national medicinal cannabis industry committee which is charged with developing a medical industry which will explore extracts from cannabis and other plants which possess medical properties.
The sister CARICOM country, which has been seen as the epicentre of cannabis production in the Eastern Caribbean, wants to become the heart of the region’s medical marijuana industry.
In his maiden speech in the House of Assembly two weeks ago, Weir declared that Government should be swift in allowing the production of marijuana because of its vast economic potential.
“We have an abundance of opportunities when it comes to unlocking and giving people the chance to grow medical marijuana, simply because of the value chain that follows,” he said, echoing the BLP’s election manifesto promise to hold a referendum on the decriminalization of small amounts of weed, as well as legalizing the use of medical marijuana.
The global medical marijuana market is projected to reach US$55.8 billion by 2025, while the industry as a whole is expected to outpace jobs in manufacturing by 2020.
Europe is forecasted to become the world’s largest ganja market within the next five years with health care spending of US$1.6 trillion.
It was in April of this year that a civil society group that advocates for the legalization of marijuana here had said during a panel discussion dubbed, The Emperor Wears No Clothes, that it was only a matter of time before Barbados joins Jamaica and some states in the United States in decimalizing the drug.
Peter Adonijah Alleyne, a spokesman for Cannabis Barbados, said at the time, the development of a cannabis industry here would help the Barbados economy flourish through the many by-products that could be produced from the plant.