Barbados simply cannot be left behind in the medicinal cannabis industry, Home Affairs Minister Edmund Hinkson declared Tuesday as a new bill to develop the business was unveiled to lawmakers.
He said he believes that Barbados has to adapt to the changing times.
Hinkson made the comments this afternoon during debate on the new version of the Medicinal Cannabis Bill which passed out of a joint select committee.
He said: “We’re doing it within the context of regional hegemony because you had a CARICOM commission on the issue and other CARICOM countries have gone ahead of us, Jamaica in 2015… and St Vincent following,
“Now Barbados’ Cabinet has agreed that we will take that step.
“I recognize that we have to change, we have to reform, we have to go.
“We cannot be left behind. I know there is a concern by some about mental health issues but I have to go with the science and the evidence is there… because it is clear from the readings I have done that marijuana use for the vast majority of history was legal.”
He said the move towards medicinal cannabis was also welcomed as it would provide alternative relief to patients suffering from certain ailments.
The Minister responsible for law enforcement suggested a medicinal cannabis industry in Barbados was not only about medicine and economic opportunities, but also about social justice.
He said: “This is an issue that not only relates to medicine and ganja.
“This is an issue that relates to social justice, it is an issue that relates to human rights, it is an issue that relates to economics.
“Yes, there is a monetary aspect to it because we are under pressure after ten lost years under the last government… but that is not all to it.”
Hinkson contended that there was no real scientific evidence to show the harmful effects of marijuana.
He also sought to calm fears that establishing the medicinal cannabis industry would open the door for drug abuse.
He insisted that the industry would be tightly monitored as cannabis could only be prescribed by a medical practitioner.
The Home Affairs Minister declared: “It isn’t that any and everybody can go out there and because you sick and because you have asthma or epilepsy you can just go and get it like that. It will be highly regulated.”