Barbados will be poised to take advantage of various opportunities within the growing global medicinal cannabis industry through the legalization of medicinal cannabis.
Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Indar Weir, made this announcement as he moved the second reading of the Medicinal Cannabis Bill (2019) in the House of Assembly on Friday.
The Bill would provide for the regulation of the handling of medicinal cannabis in Barbados; the establishment of a Barbados Medicinal Cannabis Licensing Board and a Barbados Medicinal Cannabis Appeals Tribunal; as well as the issuing of licences for the handling of the commodity.
He stated that the goal was to “position Barbados where [it] can become a global leader for research and development,” adding that it was hoped the island would be able to develop a high quality, unique medicinal cannabis cultivar, giving the island its own geographic indication within the global industry.
Responding to concerns raised about the move, he stated: “The one message I would like to get across to all Barbadians is that this is not decriminalization or recreation, but it is a Medicinal Cannabis Bill designed to give us a chance to respond to what is taking place globally…. This is an industry that is tipped, in six short years, to grow to US$100 billion in trade.”
He went on to highlight the difference between medicinal and recreational cannabis, pointing out that the focus was on the cannabidiol (CBD) extract, and not the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) extract.
“I think the confusion comes when people don’t understand the two. CBD, basically in medicinal cannabis, is used for therapeutic purposes and for palliative care treatments. CBD is not the substance from the plant that gives you a high, it is actually the THC,” he said.
As it relates to direct benefits from a local cannabis industry, Minister Weir noted that these extended beyond healthcare and tourism in the form of rehabilitative services. He explained that there was great scope for a “new type” of job creation, as persons would be needed in the areas of strain development and provision of security services. Persons would also be required to develop Information Technology Platforms “to trace the plants from the seedling to retail stage”, as is mandated by the international narcotics conventions, to which Barbados is a signatory.
There would also be training and certification in various aspects, such as growing, processing and developing strains of medicinal cannabis, which according to Minister Weir, would be offered by the University of the West Indies, the Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology and the Technical and Vocational Education Council. He added that the legislation could also lead to increased foreign direct investment.
The Minister of Agriculture and Food Security also assured Barbadians that they need not fear that they would be left out of the medicinal cannabis industry, stating: “This medicinal cannabis industry would also allow Barbadians, and members of CARICOM countries…30 per cent ownership of any foreign direct investment in this industry. So that even if a foreign investor comes to Barbados to invest in cultivation, processing … provision has to be made for Barbadians to own 30 per cent. So, at no stage…will Barbadians be left out of it.”