The first set of licences to start production of medicinal cannabis in St Vincent and the Grenadines have been issued.
“The journey over the past 20 months to put the legislative and administrative frameworks in place was certainly one of the most difficult, yet gratifying, tasks I have had the opportunity to lead in my career. It was not without major challenges,” said Minister of Agriculture and Industry Saboto Caesar as he made the announcement.
He said the step-by-step policy guidance from Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, and the significant support received from his Cabinet and parliamentary colleagues at different stages of the preparatory work had contributed to the successful opening of the industry.
The Rastafarian community was also identified by the Minister as a “central pillar of strength” in guiding the interaction over the period of consultation.
Throughout the process, religious leaders, civil society and international legal and business experts participated in a very open and transparent consultation process to identify and outline the potential strengths and weaknesses of the different models. This included a reliance on knowledge in certification and commodity trading from companies such as Bunny Imports and Exports of Trinidad and Tobago.
“The work has just started,” Caesar said. “It is our mission in St Vincent and the Grenadines to create a globally certified industry aimed at supplying medicinal cannabis products, targeting ailments based on evidence from clinical studies. The mantra is and will continue to be a successful medicinal cannabis industry begins and ends with science.”
Stakeholders in the industry were encouraged to set extremely high standards in research and development, marketing, labour relations, environmental protection and general corporate responsibility.
“Surviving with no trade preferences, grappling with the resultant implications of climate change on cannabis cultivation, competing with global producers, effectively regulating the industry to satisfy national and international laws, continuing to ensure food safety and food security, while at the same time balancing many unique variables will become our day to day reality,” Minister Caesar said.
But he said the Unity Labour Party administration does not shy away from challenges.