Before Christmas Barbados should have a framework for medical cannabis in place. However, freeing up the recreational use of the drug will have to be decided by referendum.
Word of this has come from Prime Minister Mia Mottley, who pointed out that Barbados could no longer afford to miss out on the emerging cannabis industry.
“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 more or less taken a decision, we just need some refining and training with practitioners,” Mottley told the business community gathered at the CIBC FirstCaribbean Barbados Client Economic Forum at Sandals Barbados on Friday.
Pointing out that Barbados would not be going about it carelessly, Mottley said careful research would first have to be carried out.
“Barbados cannot do that without anybody else doing it in the region,” Mottley said adding that Barbados would have to be strategic and develop the country as a global leader in the research along with other global leaders in cannabis including Jamaica.
“We need to recognize that we must not make the mistakes of history. With respect to the cannabis, why would we seek to export when we can package and extract maximum value by having clinics as well as recuperative villages for people who want to deal with a certain aspect of pain management? 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.
“Thirdly, 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 added.
Following the legalization of cannabis in Canada, Jamaica made it legal to purchase medical marijuana after decriminalizing small quantities of the drug. Antigua and Barbuda has also decriminalized cannabis and is currently looking at the possibility of making it legal for use for medical reasons.
Mottley insisted that there would be clear strategic guidelines for Barbados on how to devise a policy that puts this country in a competitive position in the cannabis industry.
An opinion poll on the issue of the decriminalization of cannabis released in September, showed that on average, about one in three responders supported partial legalization of the drug. That Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES) poll was carried out over a two-year period up to last July in St Kitts and Nevis, Guyana, Barbados, St Lucia, Dominica and Antigua.
More than 45 per cent of Barbadians were in favor of decriminalization.