Barbados is moving to cash in on the growing medical marijuana industry by teaming up with a number of firms in Canada with “great interest” in setting up here, the Prime Minister has revealed.
She said she has held meetings with individuals and company officials in Toronto and Montreal where the issue of medical marijuana was topic one, following the administration’s moves to legalise marijuana for medical use. Canada has fully decriminalised cannabis use, leading to a mushrooming of pharmaceutical industries tied to the herb.
Mottley was giving an update on her nine-day of overseas meetings where she met with a range of officials on a number of issues ranging from the environment to financial matters.
The meetings, which also saw the Prime Minister and her team going to Miami and Washington DC, was mainly to promote new product offerings in Barbados in relation to its tax rate and promote the country to investors.
She told journalists at Government Headquarters that there was “great, great interest” in the establishment of a medical marijuana industry in Barbados.
Attorney General Dale Marshall and the Minister of Agriculture Indar Weir are currently reviewing a regulatory framework, the Prime Minister told reporters.
She said: “Many of the companies, coming out of Canada, need an opportunity to be able to ensure that if they domicile in Barbados, [they can operate] their business enterprise for the rest of the world without any difficulties.”
She said medical marijuana in Barbados was “one that is likely to garner significant business”. But the prime minister cautioned that changes would have to be made to various pieces of legislation to allow for the establishment of that industry here.
Mottley said:“Even to ensure that Barbadian farm workers are not prejudiced in any way,
. . . we need to make sure that our workers are not exposed in anyway on the farm workers programme with respect to the wages which they receive as well. So there are issues that we have to work through and hence the face-to-face meetings in Toronto.”
It was late last year that the Prime Minister announced that her administration would be putting a framework in place for medical cannabis, while a referendum would be required for the recreational use.
Mottley explained that the Canadian companies lining up to take advantage of the medical cannabis industry here were due to a combination of things including that fact that some of them wanted to domicile in Barbados for that reason.
“Secondly, some of them want to participate with Barbadians in Barbados to be able to be part of the medical cannabis sector and we made it very clear that yes, we welcome people, but we are also going to ensure that we create opportunities for Barbadians to invest in this new sector as well,” she said.
She insisted that the development of the cannabis industry locally should be based on research and development and continuous training of participants, while avoiding past mistakes with other industries.
The Prime Minister told the media: “Separate from research and development, we need to see ourselves as a domicile for persons engaged in this activity because of the global commerce and it ties into what many Canadian enterprises want to do in terms of structuring out of their businesses to engage the rest of the world. This is a natural extension of what we have been doing in the international business sector.
“Thirdly, we don’t want to ever make the same mistake that was made with other agriculture products, particularly sugar in the past. That you treat to it as a bulk commodity, that if we are going to have a medical cannabis industry it needs to be a vertically integrated industry as well. Therefore, we are being very strategic about how we relate to this sector,” she promised.