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Saint Lucia on course for Exportation of Ganja

By Reginald Andrew

Government authorities have hinted that Saint Lucia may be on course to embark on the exportation of marijuana.

According to Prime Minister Phillip Pierre, this venture is in keeping with his government’s pledge to utilize the production of cannabis as a means for providing sustainable livelihoods.

Citing the potential economic benefits that can be derived from the ‘booming’ marijuana trade globally, Pierre said, measures will be put in place to facilitate this undertaking.

As the authorities look to substantiate their intention to decriminalize the use of the herb plant, last September, the government legislated the possession of 30 grams of marijuana for personal use.

“When we look at it in a holistic manner, we have dealt with small quantities and we are going to deal with cannabis as an export crop and cannabis for medicinal worth,” PM Pierre told reporters, recently.

He said that the government has further allowed “persons to plant four trees at their home or in their home environment, so we’re taking it step by step.”

The ganja plant is cited as a viable source to procure financial profits through the production of commodities for health and other domestic and industrial supplies. The by-products of the marijuana strain have been proven to yield food and medicinal products, fiber and rope, and psychotic properties for religious rites and recreational usage.

Ever since the latest disclosure by the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) that the country is set on exporting marijuana; Saint Lucia has joined in the push to utilize the production of cannabis for trading purposes.

While acknowledging this latest development, an SVG government official stated that they were pleased that the cabinet has approved this first export license, as “… it’s the first in the OECS, and this has set the stage for the final steps before a date for shipment can be properly arranged.”

Expressing his support for the venture, Saint Lucia’s agriculture minister, Alfred Propsere said, as an income generator in the ‘ganja trade’ it would be beneficial to the country

“There is a strategy for the cannabis industry, in terms of moving in that direction as there is a lot of value-added in that industry,” declared Prospere.

He explained that though Saint Lucia is not at an advanced stage as SVG, since “St Vincent has been pushing this agenda for many years, and I’m hoping that’s the direction government (St Lucia) will be heading and I will be in full support in making that happen.”

The agriculture minister noted however that the issue of deforestation concerns him as it relates to growing the crop. “My biggest fear as an ex-forester and the new minister (agriculture) is what effect it may have on our forest resources,” he said.

Prospere said climate change severely impacts the resources of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), and since “our forest resources play a critical role in addressing climate change impacts, I would hate to observe that our forest reserves become a target for planting marijuana all in an effort to really push the cannabis industry.”

Nonetheless, he asserted: “I strongly believe that there is an urgent need for it, because of the employment opportunities, and the impact on the economy of Saint Lucia. But there are some challenges that I am concerned with regards to the threat it may pose on the forest resources of Saint Lucia.”

Meanwhile, cannabis advocate Andre de Caires says, there are several measures and standards that have to be established before Saint Lucia can adequately export cannabis.

Stating that Saint Lucia is still far away from exporting medicinal-grade cannabis or any other cannabis grades, he said, “there is a long process and procedure, and farmers have to learn techniques. We have to grow the organic…and there are many things that we have to put in place before we start thinking about exporting cannabis.”

De Caires adds that there is a need for a comprehensive educational campaign to sensitize people on ‘ganja etiquette’.

“The National Educational Program is basically about teaching people cannabis etiquette, so we need to establish places where people can smoke, where people cannot smoke and explain the reasons why,” he declared.

He also spoke of other challenges that will arise involving the smoking of marijuana among young people.

“We want to reduce early initiation and therefore this National Educational Program, which would hopefully consist of PSAs on television, on radio, outreach programs, and the constituencies to educate people about cannabis and its benefits …and the economic benefits as well,” De Caires noted.

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