Cabinet, at its meeting held on the 29th July 2019, approved the establishment of a Commission to review and make recommendations on the regulatory framework for cannabis. The Minister of Commerce, International Trade, Investment, Enterprise Development and Consumer Affairs, the Honourable Bradly Felix, is spearheading this initiative given the investment potential and consequential positive impact on GDP.
Realizing the changing tide towards the decriminalization and regulation of Cannabis by regional and international counterparts, Saint Lucia is intent on positioning itself to take advantage of the transformative economic benefits in the Cannabis industry, while simultaneously addressing human rights and public health issues. The Minister agreed that the positive impacts of a regulated cannabis market outweigh the potential negative impacts, and that areas which may be a cause for concern can be mitigated with regulation and proper use of public education. “We must however, thoroughly consider all aspects of a regulated cannabis program, including its impact on the youth, public health, criminal justice and state revenue, and mitigate any potential risks associated with it. I thank the members of the Commission for their time and expertise as we work to craft a model program.” Said Minister Felix.
The Cannabis Commission is chaired by Mr. Michael Gordon QC, Attorney at Law and held its inaugural meeting on Friday September 6th 2019.
The Commission will consult on a number of issues fundamental to the design of a new legislative and regulatory framework for restricted cannabis use and will be guided by the following:
1. Protect Saint Lucians by keeping cannabis out of the hands of children and youth.
2. Keep profits out of the hands of criminals, particularly gang-related.
3. Reduce the burdens on the police and the justice system associated with simple possession of cannabis offences.
4. Prevent Saint Lucians from entering the criminal justice system and receiving criminal records for simple possession of cannabis offences.
5. Protect public health and safety by strengthening laws and enforcement measures that deter and punish more serious cannabis offences particularly selling and distributing to children and youth, selling outside the regulatory framework and driving under the influence of cannabis.
6. Ensure Saint Lucians are well-informed and provide appropriate public health campaigns for youth in particular to understand the risks involved in cannabis use.
7. Establish a system of strict production, distribution and sales, taking a public health approach, with regulation of quality and safety, restriction of access and application of taxes with support for treatment, mental health and education programs.
8. Provide access to quality-controlled cannabis for medical and scientific purposes.
The Commission will be overseen by Invest Saint Lucia and will consist of members from the following agencies/departments:
- Mr. Michael Gordon QC, Attorney at Law (Chairman)
- Attorney General
- Invest Saint Lucia
- Ministry of Commerce
- Ministry of Agriculture
- Ministry of Health
- Ministry of Home Affairs
- Ministry of Equity
- Cannabis Movement
- Leader of the Opposition
- National Youth Council
- St. Lucia Christian Council
- Iyanola Council for the Advancement of Rastafari
The next steps for the Commission in the next few months are to finalize operational activities and work plans, schedule meetings and consultations with national stakeholders, NGO’s, Communities and the general public to gain insight on their sentiment and concerns and share the proposed approach on the establishment of a well-regulated Cannabis industry in Saint Lucia.