Letters & Opinion, Matters On My Mind

We’re Missing the Momentum on Marijuana

Image of marijuana by Alex Person

A matter on my mind today is the momentum of sorts that appears to be gathering in Saint Lucia for the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana. But is that momentum leading to action on the part of the government?

Commerce Minister Bradley Felix did not say much when recently asked about Saint Lucia looking at marijuana as a commercial crop. In fact, he gave no hope of a government position on the matter.

However, he admitted that Saint Lucia may be the last country to get in on the marijuana business, which already has been decriminalized and legalized in several countries in the world, even in the Caribbean where some marijuana laws have been either slackened of entirely expunged.

“Cabinet has been discussing it. Like everything it has to be done step-by-step. There are lots of other factors that need to be taken into consideration,” Minister Felix told reporters

But the VOICE has learned that not all members of Cabinet are in approval of either legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana.

This disunity in Cabinet may be a major stumbling block for further advancement of the plant becoming a legal commercial success in the country.

Nevertheless, Minister Felix said that government met with some interest groups on the subject and that the interest now is to continue discussion as to the best approach.

But while the Government of Saint Lucia drags it feet on what it should do with marijuana, its neighbor to the south, which is Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, is on the brink of becoming a globally leading producer of organically certified medicinal cannabis, rivalling any other producer in the entire Western Hemisphere.

That country is a leading Caribbean hub for medicinal cannabis innovation and continues to explore Investment opportunities. Jamaica too, is already in the business of exporting cannabis oil to Canada, where marijuana farmers are already employing Caribbean farmworkers to grow the now-legal hemp.

At the domestic level, there also seems to be differing views coming out of various government quarters at this early stage that also reflects the differing opinions which can affect the length of time it will take for any decisions to be made at the highest levels.

For example, the Voice knows that the government is speaking to overseas-based business interests with their eyes on doing marijuana business here. But a top official of Invest Saint Lucia (ISL) recently made it clear that as far as he (or is it ISL) is concerned, any profits to be made from any marijuana business in Saint Lucia will remain here because it will have to benefit Saint Lucia and Saint Lucians first.
Strong words, indeed. But who in Saint Lucia has yet shown any interest in approaching the government to invest in marijuana? Which investor? Is ISL also talking to Saint Lucians interested in investing in marijuana? Or is it the case, yet again, that while locals are waiting for the government to make its mind up, foreign-based investors with interest in doing marijuana business in Saint Lucia are discussing with the government how to get their business going here?

The government cannot afford to waste time or linger for too long on this marijuana business.

Canadian banks operating here (and across the Caribbean) are already lining-up to make big bread on the new green gold while our local banks continue to be left out by our laws under which earnings from any legal marijuana business still qualify as ‘proceedings of crime’.

In St. Vincent and the Grenadines, there has long existed a Marijuana Farmers Association, which is guaranteed a role – by the government — in the new marijuana dispensation. So, where are our marijuana farmers? With so much ‘local weed’ always on the market, there must be local marijuana farmers. So, what will be their place in the new marijuana dispensation?

Again I say, at the risk of vexing some but in the hope that even those vexed will agree that time is not on our side in this marijuana business because while we are looking to walk carefully, others are racing to the finish line – and that too, is another matter on my mind.

Micah George is an established name in the journalism landscape in St. Lucia. He started his journalism tutelage under the critical eye of the Star Newspaper Publisher and well known journalist, Rick Wayne, as a freelancer. A few months later he moved to the Voice Newspaper under the guidance of the paper’s recognized editor, Guy Ellis in 1988.

Since then he has remained with the Voice Newspaper, progressing from a cub reporter covering court cases and the police to a senior journalist with a focus on parliamentary issues, government and politics. Read full bio...

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