The jury is out on if or how the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) will support the fledgling regional cannabis industry as Barbados and several other Caribbean states seek to get a piece of that proverbial pie.
Responding to questions during the bank’s annual news conference on Tuesday, President Dr Warren Smith acknowledged that some states were “legitimizing” the marijuana industry and he expected that trend to continue.
“I believe it is a legitimate industry for our countries to pursue as long as it remains within the law. That is the position I think we would want to take at the Caribbean Development Bank. As to whether we finance the development of that industry or not, who knows? It could be that it could be through the small business sector. I don’t know,” Smith told journalists.
So far, Jamaica, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Antigua and Barbuda have approved marijuana cultivation for medical purposes and in some cases sacramental use.
Barbados introduced legislation late last year in the form of the Medicinal Cannabis Industry Act, laying the groundwork for a build out of the industry to commence this year.
St Kitts and Nevis and other states are also in the process of developing laws in relation to that industry.
Dr Smith warned that as Barbados and other countries develop the cannabis industry authorities should ensure that locals and the country benefit.
“The legitimization of this product should not put our countries in a situation where that new area of production becomes dominated by foreign interest and our people, especially our small people, do not benefit from this new industry. That is something that I think we need to keep a very close eye on. We need to be real beneficiaries from this new industry,” he suggested.
Pointing out that the Caribbean was already recognized for its quality of marijuana, the CDB official said he saw tremendous opportunity for export, but warned against any overreliance.
“If you have a heavy reliance on a small sector and it runs into difficulties then it has a big impact on your foreign exchange earnings and your economic position. So any way in which we can find avenues to diversifying our productive base, and especially our export base, I think it is a good one,” said Smith.
“My expectation is that it is only going to continue to replicate not only across this region but across the world,” he added, while acknowledging that some countries such as the US and Canada have an established, marijuana-based industry.
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