A Government Minister is making it clear that 30 per cent of any investment coming to Barbados for the medicinal cannabis industry must be reserved for ordinary Barbadians.
This from Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Indar Weir, who added that foreign investors will receive 70 per cent.
Weir did not give details as to exactly how Barbadians will receive the 30 per cent.
However, he said he was cognizant of the fact that if Barbadians were to receive the full 100 per cent investment, “we probably still would have to take Government’s intervention to get it off the ground, and Government certainly does not have those resources”.
The Minister spoke about Barbadians’ involvement in the industry, as he delivered remarks at the opening of the Medical Cannabis Conference at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, this morning.
“So what do we do? We have to strike a balance where we encourage investment in the industry, but at the same time say to those investors, Barbadians must be part of what we do because this is our way, and this is the way we empower Barbadians.
“Equally, we have gone as far as saying any Barbadian who wants to participate and have resources can do so on a 100 per cent basis. So then if you have the research and the development capability and the financial resources by all means it is yours,” he said.
“The steering committee will do its due diligence and when we form the official Barbados Medicinal Cannabis Licensing Authority they take full responsibility for all the due diligence and the issuing of licenses so that any Barbadian having the resources will not be denied the opportunity to participate, once you meet the criteria according to the regulations that are currently in draft and that will be going to Parliament shortly,” Weir added.
The Minister mentioned that Government was having a conversation regarding providing financial assistance for those who do not have resources.
He also indicated that as Barbados focuses on building out a thriving medicinal marijuana industry, health issues affecting Barbadians, including Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) must remain at the forefront.
Weir said it is important to note that if Barbados is going to develop a medicinal cannabis industry, “we have to deal with all the core issues in health care that we have been grappling with at this time”.
“We now have to find a way to not only look at treatment but get to the core of the issues. And so therefore, a game changer for us in medicinal cannabis can only be supported promptly in how we change the way our children eat and we ourselves eat.
“Because we don’t necessarily want to be involved in commerce to the extent that we exploit the cannabis industry as far as we possibly can, but that we leave behind the health of our nation where our children will continue to grow obese, and we will continue to have prevalence of chronic non communicable diseases,” Weir said.
The Minister also said that Government’s commitment to be involved in the industry was based on an awareness of the high health-care bill the island faces.
He said the medical cannabis industry represents a significant change to the island’s landscape.
“If I am to be brutally honest with you, I can share statistics that suggest to me, and these are statistics from the International Marketing Research and Consulting.
“What they have reported is that the global medicinal cannabis industry reached a value of 13.4 billion in 2018 and is expanding further to 16.5 billion in 2019 and has been projected to reach some 44.4 billion by 2024.
“Now these are significant numbers and this is a Ministry that continues on the trajectory that suggests that we as a nation cannot avoid being involved in this cannabis industry,” he said. (AH)