Minister of Agriculture, Saboto Caesar, left, and his Finance counterpart, Camillo Gonsalves, speak at the event in Kingstown on Thursday. (iWN photos)

While the lower house in Antigua has passed a bill decriminalising marijuana, the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines says that any changes that it makes to the relevant law would be to set up a medicinal marijuana industry.

If the bill becomes law, residents of Antigua and Barbuda will be permitted to have up to 15 grammes of cannabis instead of the original 10 grams proposed.

The proposed law will also make it lawful for a household to have up to four plants in their possession.

But speaking at an event in Kingstown on Thursday — where a U.S. national who was lauded as “an esteemed scientist” but is, in fact, a chef and a deejay conducted tests on samples of Vincentian marijuana — Minister of Agriculture, Saboto Caesar said the insistence of his government is on a medicinal marijuana industry.

“And I want to begin by the last word, industry,” Caesar said, adding that his government is working to ensure that it has the requisite framework in place to enhance the livelihood for the people, create jobs, and diversity the agricultural sector.

He said there are some persons who would wish, for different reasons, “to comingle the issue of recreational cannabis usage with that of medicinal usage but the mandate of the committee which has been established by the cabinet is only, at this point in time, to look at medicinal cannabis”.

“Marijuana scientist”, chef Frederick Nesbitt III at the marijuana testing event in Kingstown on Thursday. It later emerged that Nesbitt is a chef and deejay. (iWN photo)

Caesar said the discussion about marijuana is very much alive in the Caribbean and that he is following what is taking place in Antigua and Barbuda.

The agriculture minister, however, said SVG has to “be guided by our culture and at the end of the day, we would want what is best for our people and I want to wish all other countries which may have a particular approach, different or similar, all the very best in the advancement of this industry.

“We are here to establish an industry. We want to ensure that we create all the possibilities and opportunities, especially for our young people to not only be a part of the production side but also to be a part of the processing and the extractions that would take place because we have an education revolution in St. Vincent and the Grenadines producing a cadre of intellectuals and, this is an opportunity for us to absorb a lot of that intellectual hardware and capacity and human resource which we have been able to develop over the years into this fledging industry.”

Caesar also said he wanted to show his appreciation of the Christian community, which, he said, “has been engaged significantly in the discussions”.

He said there are over 15 local and international investors who have shown interest in the medicinal marijuana sector.

They had an important first round of a local medical marijuana investment forum which was well attended and persons have been calling and asking for more information.

He said it is not true that local persons would be left behind.

“… no one is going to exclude anyone from the possibilities and the opportunities, however, what is going to happen is, at the end of the day, each person must make a calculation about the investment and the risk that they are willing to take. And what I envisage, what I see that can take place, that we can see persons forming cooperatives and companies so that they can pool factors of production…”

Marijuana activist Junior “Spirit” Cottle, left, and healthcare and law enforcement professionals at Thursday’s event. (iWN photo)

Speaking at the same event, Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves, said that like Caesar, he has noted that other countries in the Caribbean are going forward in different ways on the matters of legalising, decriminalising, and medicinal use of marijuana.

“Everybody has their own different circumstances,” he said.

“For example, in Antigua and Barbuda, they are talking about decriminalising 15 grammes for recreational use. Well, Antigua and Barbuda doesn’t grow marijuana. So they are not going to be talking about an industry, an export industry because that is not the culture or the consumption pattern or the production pattern of marijuana in Antigua and Barbuda.

“Somebody bring it in and other people smoke it. So that is why their focus is on that.”

He said that though illegal, SVG has been producing marijuana and exporting it.

“And that is part of our reality. So we have to deal with an industry that takes advantage of that: the production and export of this product.”

Gonsalves said that, as stated in his budget Address on Feb. 5, SVG is not going to be a bad neighbour and decriminalise marijuana while it remains illegal in Caribbean countries that create the demand for it.

“I think there is tremendous potential here but it is not a panacea, it is not a magic bullet. It is another industry and another product that we hope can add to our general growth and development profile,” Gonsalves said.

Opposition lawmaker Roland “Patel” Matthews of the New Democratic Party said that he supports the decriminalisation of marijuana for recreational uses.

Israel Bruce, the NDP’s candidate for South Central Windward, which Caesar represents in Parliament, says he is also supporting making marijuana legal for recreational use.

16 COMMENTS

  1. If you want to see the effects of Marijuana in SVG you should visit the mental asylum. We often look at issues in dollars and cents without looking at the broader implications. While we may improve the economic well being of some citizens through the sale of marijuana there is the propensity to destroy many other lives by legalizing it.

    The issues surrounding marijuana have to be careful discussed and considered before any attempts are made to decriminalize or legal it. What is good for other countries is not necessarily the best for us. I am more in favour of decrimilization.

    I highly commend the Government on the it’s approach in dealing with this issue. Let’s be careful about this. We remain a signatory to the United Nation Convention on Illicit Drugs and Psyschothropic Substances. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines also have a very young vulnerable population to protect. We either champion the Edication Revolution or the Marijuana Revolution. The latter has the possibility to lead to our demise if we are not careful about it.

    Finally, any move to decriminalize or legalize marijuana must be done through a proper regulatory framework.

    • A mountain of research has proven that there is no such thing as what used to be called “cannabis psychosis.”

      If you visit our mental asylum, as I have on several occasions in a professional capacity, or any mental asylum around the world, you will find people who has smoked lots of marijuana, who have never toked up, who are chronic rumbos, who are lifelong alcohol abstainers, who are addicted to some prescription drug or the other, and so on.

      A mountain of research has also proven that marijuana is far less harmful than alcohol, tobacco, cocaine, heroin, high doses of aspirin (yes ASA), and most prescription drugs (whose dangerous side effects are clearly stated in TV ads every night of the week).

      Agustus Carr is a ULP nincompoop for singling out marijuana as a dangerous substance.

    • It is so amazing, that no one is talking about the war on crack cocaine, this remains the most destructive drug in our beloved SVG. There should be a renewed emphasis on fighting cocaine, as much as that which revolves around the marijuana trade.
      Unlike our troubled regional counterparts to the far north, which has a ridiculous out of control murder rate due to Lotto Scamming. St Vincent’s spiraling murder rate is mostly due to the ever-elusive cocaine trade that seems to be going unnoticed in the eyes of the authorities. Once a conclusive study is conducted, it will be proven, that the persons at the mental home are mostly committed there due to cocaine addiction and not so much marijuana.
      I am not at all advocating for the legalization of ‘weed’ but more of a staunch proponent of the benefits of decriminalizing ‘weed’ in small quantities. This can boost SVG’s tourist industry by leaps and bounds. We must use what we have to gain a more substantial footing in the regional tourism industry, of which SVG is certainly at the bottom of the scale. There are limited white sand beaches on the mainland and virtually no resorts to even full the proposed flights coming from North America, lets try to sell SVG for what it is blessed with ‘Marijuana’.
      My proposal going forward is to decriminalize marijuana in small quantities and have designated areas such as Kingstown as no smoking zones, along with all educational, health, religious and sporting institutions. Also, a no smoking zone within a 150-yard radius of all Police Stations and Court buildings throughout the country must be strictly adhered to. All smokers (no one under 21 years should be granted a licence) must obtain a smoking licence and anyone caught smoking without a licence will be prosecuted and banned from obtaining a licence for a year. This process should be a carefully vetted one. However, this licence should not be applicable to visitors to our shores who do not stay for more than 2 to 3 weeks.

  2. I see Taiwan is putting up money for security, will there be armed thugs guarding the crops? how is this going to work if this isn’t decriminalized? the courts will be overwhelmed. You are going to encourage a black market with people stealing the plants for resale; what is mean’t by medical marijuana are you producing to sell to the pharmaceutical companies to produce medicines like” Marinol?” you are going to drive doctors into a black market and what about non-medical products. At least it is better than your current policy of since we have no jobs for them SEND THEM TO THE MENTAL HOME.” Investors?” what exactly are they going to do, are they going into the fields to plant the crops. How are you going to prevent over-production? given what you just said about Antigua, do you think the “investors are going to produce only for the MM industry. Do I need to go on? finally you are corrupt and unscrupulous so I DON’T TRUST YOU.

  3. Oh, I forgot, the police can’t solve the murders already committed, now you want to introduce a non-decriminalized marijuana industry. well at least you will create an opportunity for someone to go into the bullet-proofing business. WHY DON’T YOU ALL JUST GO AWAY? and take “Spirit” with you.

  4. Watch a time in SVG!!!!

    Free the weed!!!!

    Gaston Brown is the leading political strategistist in the Caribbean!!! Jamaica has the same laws on the books.

    Our PM has become empty and too rhetorical in his lame speeches. Ralph seems everything through his political lenses and refuses to take the humane aspects of this into consideration.

    Medical marijuana is NOT going to put any money into the pockets of local farmers. A certain strain or variety of marijuana is used for medicinal purposes. Recreational use is a win-win situation since we can market svg as a ganja tourist destination.

    I am a staunched supporter but am tired of the myopic ULP!!!

    To the NDP, there are many opportunities abound to show the people there is labour fatigue covering the land.

    These are
    1. Free the weed. Make it the heart of your campaign.
    2. Free Yuggie. Remind ppl that freedoms and protections in svg are for a few.
    3. Blame the ULP for the rape culture in SVG. Remind ppl of the alleged rapists the young boys in society are copying. Be mindful that Mia, Kay Bacchus and Zita are making this out to be a #WeToo movement. They are stretching this too far. Keep it simple.
    4. Quit saying that there are no money and the country is broke. The ppl interpret this to mean hiring freeze and structural adjustments. Instead make a bold promise to the unions for an increase in salary.
    5. Stop lambasting the ULP over the $250 for poor relief. It’s a double edge sword because it’s the recipients who feel demeaned. Promise the recipients $500 instead. bottomline, say what u r going to give.
    6. Remind ppl of the forties, i.e., 46 % youth unemployment and 41 murders.
    7. Make t-shirts and hats with “bad roads, good ppl”, “Stop rape! Respect women”, etc. Margaret London protest action is stale and has become an eyesore to the NDP.
    8. Stay in parliament! Nice radio is for the diehards. Parliament goes for a wider audience. After all it is free press. There is something called parliamentary immunity, use it.
    9. NDP needs improvement as a brand. It was cool to wear yellow in the eighties. Today, the youths follow the fashion and red is fashionable. Bring back the artists around the election campaigns. Imagine Fya Empress is showing off on the NDP. This would not happen if Machel, bungi, beres or chronix is in the program. Branding and perception go hand in hand.
    10. Make Friday look prime ministerial! Let him make breaking news. Let him be the decider!

  5. We respect the fact the Law is meant to be Progressive and not Regressive but even so; while in these discussions, let’s not overlook the opportunity to touch on the topic of those serving time for marijuana charges are the loyalist of that industry during its unlawful period, they have paid the penalties to what has become our vision of ‘tremendous potential ‘for success. I wish to note that the majority of those within our prisons internationally are black men and a progressive law with no modification to regress, would leave those men to perish within the prisons. An appendix by lawmakers would seem reasonable at this point do you think?

  6. This whole marijuana business, including medical marijuana, is a dead-on-arrival issue because we are so far behind other Caribbean and First World countries in legislation, production, and distribution that it is a bad joke to even talk about it here.

  7. Of course the next step in Antigua will be production for local use which would be quickly followed by export production because the island has lots of idle land ideally suited for large scale production. (Don’t forget that Antigua was a major sugar cane exporter for over 300 years!)

    To claim otherwise, as Camillo Gonsalves has done above, is pure fart.

  8. It is so amazing, that no one is talking about the war on crack cocaine, this remains the most destructive drug in our beloved SVG. There should be a renewed emphasis on fighting cocaine, as much as that which revolves around the marijuana trade.

    Unlike our troubled regional counterparts to the far north, which has a ridiculous out of control murder rate due to Lotto Scamming. St Vincent’s spiraling murder rate is mostly due to the ever-elusive cocaine trade that seems to be going unnoticed in the eyes of the authorities. Once a conclusive study is conducted, it will be proven, that the persons at the mental home are mostly committed there due to cocaine addiction and not so much marijuana.

    I am not at all advocating for the legalization of ‘weed’ but more of a staunch proponent of the benefits of decriminalizing ‘weed’ in small quantities. This can boost SVG’s tourist industry by leaps and bounds. We must use what we have to gain a more substantial footing in the regional tourism industry, of which SVG is certainly at the bottom of the scale. There are limited white sand beaches on the mainland and virtually no resorts to even full the proposed flights coming from North America, lets try to sell SVG for what it is blessed with ‘Marijuana’.

    My proposal going forward is to decriminalize marijuana in small quantities and have designated areas such as Kingstown as no smoking zones, along with all educational, health, religious and sporting institutions. Also, a no smoking zone within a 150-yard radius of all Police Stations and Court buildings throughout the country must be strictly adhered to. All smokers (no one under 21 years should be granted a licence) must obtain a smoking licence and anyone caught smoking without a licence will be prosecuted and banned from obtaining a licence for a year. This process should be a carefully vetted one. However, this licence should not be applicable to visitors to our shores who do not stay for more than 2 to 3 weeks.

    • SMH. Smoking license!? R u kidding me!!

      Next up is rum drinking license, beer drinking or goat cooking license.

      Think!!!

  9. It’s about time people in dvgcan puff puff puff freely without harassment.Smoke it.Cook it.Drink it.Bake it.Then sell it.No one cannot destroy a natural plant that was created by God.

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