Barbados could see its first cultivated crop of medicinal marijuana by the end of this year.
And according to chief executive officer of the Barbados Medicinal Cannabis Licensing Authority (BMCLA), Dr Shantal Munro-Knight, a local Barbadian planter will be the beneficiary.
Speaking during a virtual press conference and Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signing to formalize a partnership between the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus and the BMCLA, Dr Munro-Knight revealed the first medicinal cannabis licence was likely to be awarded by the end of this month.
She said it was currently awaiting final approval from the BMCLA’s board.
She maintained that interest in the industry had grown exponentially with the number of licence applications before the BMCLA having more than quadrupled since January.
Dr Munro-Knight maintained that much of the interest being expressed had come from Barbadians and not international companies.
“We currently have 68 applications going through the authority and we have one application, in particular, that is awaiting final approval from the board and that should come before the end of May.
“So by the end of May, we should hopefully, once the board approves, be having our very first licence. Now of course it’s going to take a while for that person to get going and operational, so we are hoping that by the end of this year or the first quarter of next year we will be seeing our very first cultivated crop,” Dr Munro-Knight disclosed.
“That is a local Barbadian and I stress that because I think that there was a sentiment out there that the industry is going to be dominated by persons overseas and that there were these big conglomerates that were going to come and take over the industry. Our application process does not indicate that. A large part of our applications are coming from ordinary Barbadians, some as individuals, some who are joining together, we have a cooperative that has applied as well to be part and to be involved in the industry.”
Outgoing Principal of the UWI Cave Hill Campus, Professor the Most Honourable Eudine Barriteau described the MOU signing as necessary, saying she believed it would help to advance research in the Caribbean and promote public awareness and capacity development training.
She explained that with degrees already being offered in cannabis science, agriculture, economics and journalism, the UWI had a critical responsibility to educate the region about the medicinal and other benefits of the marijuana plant.
“I am confident, therefore, that the work of our two agencies, the UWI Cave Hill Campus and the BMCLA will advance research towards helping the region to appreciate that the fertile strains of marijuana said to be found in the Caribbean may produce exceptional medicinal remedies and, therefore, the plant ought not to be seen simply as a dangerous drug,” Professor Barriteau noted.
“Under this MOU, the BMCLA will provide the UWI Cave Hill exclusively with a complimentary Research and Development licence, accompanied with Import and Export licences for materials specifically associated with the research. This is a critical component of this agreement, for as I have noted before, our research will be hamstrung unless the legislative and regulatory framework are in place to allow our researchers to legally undertake research.”
The outgoing principal pointed out that recent research by a student at UWI had to be conducted in the UK because it was not legal to do it in Barbados.
Additionally, Professor Barriteau said the financial benefits of medicinal cannabis could not be overlooked. (RB)