It may have met a lot of resistance, but plans of investing in the medical marijuana industry in Barbados may soon become a reality.
Six months after her election, Prime Minister Mia Motley expressed her plans of legalizing medical marijuana on the island. “There is no doubt that we will put a framework in place for medical cannabis within the next week or so. In fact, we have … taken a decision, we just need some refining and training with practitioners,” she announced.
The proclamation received strong resistance from religious communities, some legal fraternities, and educators. Her plan, however, does not include legalizing the use of recreational marijuana, but the latter may be decided through a referendum.
Motley assured Barbadians that her administration will take the matter seriously and will make decisions based on research. She alludes to the nation’s ‘mistakes of history’ and would want to invest first on domestic clinics and recuperative villages before investing in exports.
“So that the whole value added chain is delivered here, and the area in which we do it which is tourism, and that gives you a long-stay tourist,” she said.
Motley is also considering the business aspect of the medical marijuana investment and is looking at establishing partnerships with other countries who are willing to accommodate those kinds of investments.
“You cannot have your primary market which is Canada, the international business and financial services sector moving rapidly into new areas of investment and you can’t match as a domicile, the ability to accommodate those new areas of investment because if you don’t what are they going to do? Go elsewhere,” she said.
As an investment, the 53-year old Prime Minister announced that the campaign will include the participation of locals in the industry.
The announcement did not meet resistance from the Ministry of Health as its acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Kenneth George also confirmed his support for the plan considering the medical benefits of cannabis.
He announced his office’s big involvemen in the preparation of medical cannabis regulation.
“We expect medical marijuana will be given the same type of safeguards (as Schedule 1 drugs) to protect the population and the persons who will dispense the drug. We prefer to have a core group of persons who are recognised by the fraternity to be the initial gatekeepers with respect to the prescription and dispensing of medical marijuana,” George said.
To date, Barbados law implements strict anti-marijuana regulations. Possessing cannabis for personal and recreational use can lead up to a fine of 250,000 Barbadian dollars ($124,890/£98,966) or imprisonment for five years in extreme cases. The law clearly states that over 15 grams of cannabis
This law, however, may change in the future with Prime Minister Mottley’s plan to invest in medical marijuana. This may also mean that Barbados will be joining the trend of making reforms concerning the use of cannabis in recent years. In 2015, it can be remembered that Jamaica decriminalized the possession of up to two ounces or five plants of Cannabis. Antigua and Barbuda have also announced plans to legally produce marijuana for religious and medical purposes.
Other Carribean nations have also announced their support for the pro-medical marijuana campaign. A source said that the University of Guelph will be responsible for the Research and Development as well as certification programs of the campaign.
The chairperson of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Commission on marijuana, Rose-Marie Belle Antoine also voiced her support for the change of the region’s existing cannabis laws.
“…I want to say emphatically that I am not sitting on the fence anymore, and after reviewing all of the evidence, looking at all of the laws, listening to people in the region, I am personally committed and quite clear in my mind that the law needs to change,” she said during last month’s consultation on cannabis in Dominica.