Cannabis Commission to Present Draft Legislation, Commerce Minister Hippolyte

Hon. Emma Hippolyte, Minister for Commerce
Hon. Emma Hippolyte, Minister for Commerce

Saint Lucia’s Cannabis Commission will, in the coming weeks, present its draft legislation to the public, Commerce Minister Emma Hippolyte said this week.

The Commission was established by government in 2019 to review and make recommendations on laws and regulations as it relates to marijuana.

Government, in 2021, amended the Drugs (Prevention and Misuse) Act to decriminalize cannabis (up to 30 grams) for “personal, private use” for adults.

This move, government noted, would allow Saint Lucia to develop a cannabis industry “that reports show could provide jobs when fully developed.”

Hippolyte, Chairperson of the Cannabis Taskforce, was part of a delegation that visited St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) last year to conduct a tour of several cannabis establishments.

“I felt very honoured to have met the brethren here and had a conversation (with them) to know where they are and I’m pleased that Saint Lucia has done the same in terms of bringing (them) at the table because they have struggled for years in that area. We need to ensure that we protect the livelihoods (of) our people,” Hippolyte said during an exchange with SVG’s Agricultural Minister Saboto Caesar last year.

She continued, “Our mantra is ‘putting people first’ and we are putting our people first in terms of ensuring that the legislation we have protects them. I have had conversations with them, I’ve heard their areas of concern and I have seen and heard what they plan to do to participate actively and benefit (from) that industry.

We can use the technical team that you have, the labs that you have, the procedures that you have developed,” Hippolyte said, noting that both islands can come together to see “how we can merge that with international standards (and) how we can use the platform that we have at home.”

At a press briefing last week, Hippolyte noted that “we’ve been doing quite a bit at the office but we have just started our process. We have a draft piece of legislation. We are just putting the final dots on there so that we can start having the conversation with the public. Within the coming weeks, you will be seeing interviews where the technical people will be speaking in particular about the draft legislation. We are also working with a consultant to finalize the business part of it to compensate and to ensure that we put the right … piece of legislation.”

“It has taken us a little while, but as the cannabis industry is moving (at) a very fast pace, we had to get some technical assistance to ensure that whatever we present to the public is as current as possible,” Hippolyte added.

Prime Minister Philip Pierre last year noted that “this (Drugs Prevention and Misuse Act amendment) is just the first stage of more cannabis legislation that will eventually lead to cannabis being used and if found feasible … for export and medicinal use which would help in foreign exchange and employment.”

“We can educate our people on the rules and regulations, as well as implementing both the necessary social and physical infrastructure to deal with this regime,” Pierre said.

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