The medicinal cannabis industry has resulted in the incorporation of over 22 new businesses in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Minister of Agriculture Saboto Caesar told the budget debate this month that these companies have as directors, nationals of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), CARICOM, and North America, Europe and Africa.
The minister said that 12 cooperatives with an aggregate membership in excess of 140 traditional cultivators of cannabis have registered at the cooperative department.
“… and we continue to see the unfolding of this very important project,” the minister said.
In his Budget Address, Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves said that hundreds of local farmers have become licensed as cannabis cultivators.
He said large swaths of land have been bought or leased for the production of medicinal cannabis.
“As pledged in last year’s Budget, the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines enacted the necessary legislative framework to establish a well-regulated, export-oriented medicinal cannabis industry.”
Gonsalves said investor enthusiasm for SVG’s medicinal cannabis industry is high.
He said that Kingstown’s Medicinal Cannabis Authority (MCA) has received 280 licence applications.
They come from 25 foreign investors, seven local investors, 26 local cultivators, 210 traditional cultivators and 12 traditional cultivators’ cooperatives.
A total of 70 applications have been approved, including those of 10 local farmers’ cooperatives and 18 regional and international companies.
The 10 local farmers’ cooperatives have a membership of over 140 traditional cultivators, the finance minister said.
He said the value of the licences approved thus far is EC$13.5 million.
“Including application fees and other ancillary items, the MCA’s billings exceed $14.3 million. This amount far exceeds the $5 million that was predicted at the beginning of 2019,” Gonsalves told Parliament.
However, the MCA had accepted only $6 million in fees from approved applicants.
“The reluctance to immediately accept all fees is due to caution on the part of the MCA and the local banking sector about potentially jeopardising our fragile correspondent banking relations, particularly when dealing with cannabis companies that have American directors or board members,” he said.
The minister said these challenges were anticipated from the outset.
“Banks are currently consulting with their correspondent banks and attorneys about the most efficacious ways to process and accept these fees, as well as the day-to-day transactions that will increase as the industry matures.”
Gonsalves said that active licensees were establishing farms and medicinal cannabis processing facilities in SVG.
As the medicinal cannabis industry begins production in 2020, the licenced farmers’ cooperatives, local, regional and international companies will undoubtedly ramp up employment of skilled cultivators and processors.
“This year, many of the recipients of medicinal cannabis licences will commence operations, adding to the growing private sector momentum,” Gonsalves said.
But opposition spokesperson on agriculture Roland “Patel” Matthews, who is also MP for North Leeward, questioned the finance minister’s assertion that hundreds of local farmers have been granted licences to grow marijuana.
“I make it my business to talk to the ganja farmers. I asked them in North Leeward for sure, ‘Can you show me a copy of your licence?’
“To date, none has been able to show that; that here is my licence. So I don’t know if there is some kind of licencing taking place and the farmers of North Leeward are not part of it. I stated before that North Leeward grows the most marijuana in this country,” Matthew said.
He said that he, personally, has an interest in the medical cannabis industry. Matthews said he believes North Leeward produces the most marijuana in SVG.
“So I’m asking the Minister of Finance or Agriculture, how many licences have been given to marijuana farmers, especially the traditional cultivators, whether it’s in a cooperative or individually in North Leeward. How many have their licence in their hand and [can] say, yes we have a licence?” Matthews said.
Matthews said North Leeward is “a constituency where I know that ganja contributes significantly to the livelihood of people”.
He noted the finance minister’s assertion that medical cannabis production in SVG will begin around the middle of this year.
“So are you saying that that there are people with licence but they can’t plant? Something not right there because licence gives you permission? So are you saying that someone has the licence but you’re holding it up? It’s not reflecting here what this is saying that they have their licence. But it doesn’t seem so because the reality tells a different story,” Matthews said.
MP Patel is again right on the money. It should be local people running the cannabis industry in our country not foreigners. You people will never learn at this rate. Ceasar is claiming things like ” over 22 new businesses” and ” hundreds of local farmers” And about how much money they haven’t collected. Next thing he will probably say is that “Santa Clause indeed lives at the Northpole #1” I expected better from this minister.
How can you give liscene before amnesty ,that’s walking before you creep
The British Food Standards Agency has issued its first safety warning over CBD products. According to them “Pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and people taking medication should not eat foods containing an ingredient derived from the cannabis plant, a regulator has warned”.
We here in SVG have been jumping up and down while championing cannabis production as our partway to riches but why? Why are we being so well fooled to assume that cannabis production here will bring us riches beyond our wildest dreams?
One of the reason is that we have lost our identity and are ready to be made a fool of. Surely would not the land be better turned over to good productive farming instead of inviting foreigners here to further exploit us? How can we be so wretchedly stupid in allowing ourselves to be taken in by those in authority who have always exploited us?
The Herero and Nama people experience. When you destroy a people and take away their land and customs, you take away their very minds too. https://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/witness/
Do we really think that we have a place in the world cannabis market? “New Mexico’s bid to become the 12th U.S. state to legalize recreational use of marijuana abruptly fell flat after state senators in a legislature dominated by Democrats rejected a bill that would have forced permission for sales in all of the state’s cities and towns”.
What about the harm to our society when Cannabis becomes more widespread and available? “Harrowing CCTV shows the chilling moment a father-of-four was stabbed to death by a drug dealer armed with a Rambo-style knife inside a car. Malik Hussain, 35, was knifed four times in the chest as he sat in a VW Golf before being dragged into the street and stamped on as he lay dying”.
I must say that a push for Cannabis production here from the Ralph Gonsalves extended family one could accept and could indeed easily see why they would want such, but to see it being boasted about by Minister of Agriculture, Saboto Caesar, a man whom they say is a church going Christian is surely beyond the pale. This surely is outside the bounds of acceptable behaviour by any true Christian.
This is going to create more adversity and mayhem. Look out for more gun fight as Ganga man defends his turf.
It would appear so Bongoman and we would have brought that upon ourselves. Just look at Mexico today!
Just curious, how many old ganja business existed prior ?
“Cannabis addict who stabbed five people did it to stop voices in his head”
“A deranged knifeman who stabbed five people in a four-day rampage told doctors he was smoking cannabis every day to help him manage voices in his head, a court heard. Jason Kakaire, 30, knifed four men and a woman in a horrific spree of violence in Edmonton, north London. England”.
What will we say to the likes of this when Cannabis becomes plentiful in SVG? So should we not ought to be very careful what we wish for?
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