Marks said that his company is interested in using marijuana to cure illnesses. (Internet photo)

Leader of the Opposition Godwin Friday, on Monday, said he was concerned about the “haste” with which the government is moving to pass legislation to establish a medical marijuana industry in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

He made the comments on his weekly radio appearance on New Times, his New Democratic Party’s daytime show on NICE Radio.

Friday said that he had attended that morning a meeting of the select committee, comprised of government and opposition lawmakers who are reviewing the three bills tabled in Parliament earlier this month.

The committee is also scheduled to meet all day Tuesday, said Friday, a lawyer and Member of Parliament for the Northern Grenadines.

“The idea, it seems, is to get these bills through as quickly as possible,” he told listeners.

“We had a very good session this morning, but my concern — and it is one that is shared by my colleagues and I — is that there seems to be a great haste to try and get these things done and I don’t think it is proper when you have these important legislations.”

He said that the bill should be done in such a way that “it is given not only the select committee’s attention but once we have discussed the bill and come up with the finalised version of it, that the people of the country know what is in it and have their feedback still, because nothing is final until it is voted [upon].

“So I feel that the haste that it is going through is not helpful and I don’t think it is appropriate in the circumstances, so I hope that the minister would take that into account.”

Friday said that the bills are “very weighty stuff.

“You are talking about transforming a commodity that was regarded as — you know, people were hounded and killed for growing and for transporting”.

The opposition leader said the bills are “a big deal”.

“So I will hope that more time will be given for that, not just the select committee but for the people to understand what’s in the bill, how it is going to function, who is going to benefit from it before it is debated in the Parliament.”

The select committee is debating the three bills that Minister of Agriculture, Saboto Caesar, introduced in Parliament on Sept. 6.

The minister said The Medicinal Cannabis Industry Bill will regulate the supply and use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

The Cannabis Cultivation (Amnesty) Bill will provide for the grant of an amnesty for the period commencing Aug. 1, 2018 and ending July 31, 2019 or such further period as the House of Assembly may determine, by resolution, to persons engaged in the cultivation of cannabis contrary to Section 8 of the Drug Prevention of Misuse Act and any other relevant enactment, who may otherwise be liable to criminal prosecution for certain criminal offences and other proceeding under that act or any other relevant enactment in force.”

And, the Permitted Use of Cannabis for Religious Purpose Bill provides for the decriminalisation of the use of cannabis as sacrament in adherence to a religious practice by such religious bodies as may be prescribed by order of the minister including, but not limited to, the Rastafarian faith at their place of worship and at an event declared by order of the minister to be an exempt event for the purposes of this act and for matters and purposes incidental thereto.

5 replies on “Opposition concerned about gov’t ‘haste’ on ganga laws”

  1. There will be a high-level ganga conference to take place in Jamaica from September27-29.Do we have any representative from SVG attending that conference. There are mahor some major stakeholders from USA, Canada, Columbia, Jamaica obviously. With all the talk about establishing a medical marijuana industry in SVG one will hope that we are represented at such a high-level conference.

  2. Concerned citizen says:

    I have been following the debate on the cultivation of medical cannabis, and profess to be very concerned about the lack of information surrounding this that has been published locally. Medical cannabis which can be used commercially for the treatment of health issues is very low in The ( the component which gives users the high) and high in cbd (the medically useful component). The cultivation of plants with this profile has to be strictly controlled to avoid cross contamination which would mean greenhouse cultivation with specific donor seeds. We do not to my knowledge have the finances or expertise to do this and therefore would not have a commercially viable product for export in the near future. The men in the mountain would not be able to grow this type of plant, so the current growers would be eliminated from any benefits that a legalised medical cannabis industry would bring. Only very rich investors would be able to compete in this climate. Does anyone truly believe that the current growers would share any, if any, of the financial rewards? The discussion of medical cannabis industry should include these factors, so the general public would have a greater understanding of ALL the issues and not be led by folks whose agendas could be suspect. The USA, CA, JAM and others no doubt will lead in any such export earnings and SVG will be playing catchup if this is possible. Nothing is going to change here, the men in the hills will still be operating outside of the law. If there is a move to legalise personal consumption, using say the model in Jamaica, then the men in the mountain would be redundant.

  3. This whole thing is joke. We are so far behind other countries that we could never hope to produce exportable produce.

    As for recreational cannabis, a lot of better produce and different varieties are starting to enter SVG. Soon we will be a net importer of weed from places like Jamaica, Columbia, and especially Venezuela the same way we are a net importer of so much other farm produce.

  4. This is just a scam for the government to sell multi-million dollar production licenses to foreign companies which will quickly go bust.

    1. Marijuana should be completely legalized without reference to who makes money from its legalization and who does not. When that happens no one would have to go to jail for marijuana and that is the greatest benefit that the decriminalization of marijuana would confer on St. Vincent. But until we take that next step which clearly need a government different from both the ULP and the NDP, supporters for the legalization of marijuana will welcome legalizing medical marijuana.

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