Marijuana Exponents: Scientific Research and Data Collection Integral to Boost Cannabis Industry

Major stakeholders at the recently concluded Caribbean Cannabis Forum have underlined the significance of scientific research and educational data to bring the public up-to-speed concerning the regulations and use of the herb plant.

The two-day symposium (which was recently held in Saint Lucia) brought together a range of players from wider regional cannabis circles, as well as government ministers and officials to discuss the issue pertaining to the establishment of a fully regulated cannabis industry.

Stakeholders sign MOU at Caribbean Cannabis Forum

Minister for Tourism and the Creative Industries Dr Ernest Hilaire stressed upon the economic empowerment within the proposed industry. He noted that essential commodities can be derived from the production of cannabis, to include manufacturing, biodiversity, medicine and food.

He recalled that government legislated the Regulated Substances Act in 2023, which provided the legal framework for regulating cannabis and other regulated substances. Thereafter, the process led to the formation of the Regulated Substances Authority, to ensure the effective oversight of financing of policies related to regulated substances.

“The next crucial step in our journey is the upcoming enactment of the Cannabis Bill,” declared Hilaire.

“This Bill will facilitate the transition of existing operators in the industry into the formal eceonomy, by providing an amnesty for cultivators operating before its enactment,” he added.


The minister stated that the Bill will also establish licensing requirements for cultivation, processing, transportation, import, export and scientific research.

Furthermore, said Hilaire, and most importantly, “the Bill will also make provision for the facilitation of incentives” for investments into the cannabis industry.

He said there is also the opportunity for production of “value added products” derived from the plant and marketable for export.

Assessing the cannabis industry, the minister noted that the industry can serve as a catalyst for further socio-economic development. He spoke profoundly about the benefits to be derived from a highly-themed Cannabis Tourism Industry.

Hilaire noted that the evolving Cannabis Tourism Industry is estimated to the tune of USD17 billion. He contends that the Cannabis Tourism Brand has the potential to accommodate visitors and create avenues for persons in the Creative Industries field to thrive economically.

The minster proposed the setting up of musical festivals with a cannabis-promotion feature and other arts expositions to woo visitors to the destination.

Kwesi Goddard, an Agricultural Engineer attached to the Ministry of Agriculture is a strong proponent for undertaking a thorough scientific cannabis research project.

“There are opportunities and the necessity for research… into the base-line of the plant,” he stated.

Additionally, said Goddard, there are opportunities for researching the traditional uses of the herb plant, as well as its production aspects.

He noted that different dimensions can be factored into the production system, to include intellectual property rights and the management of inputs and exports at high value.

“In terms of the management of intellectual property, endemic species, endemic tools and techniques that may have a need to be patented in the future,” the agricultural engineer said.

Goddard notes that moving forward, emphasis must be placed on establishing a functional institutional framework. “Whatever production system we may have, we have to consider and investigate the possibility of using inputs from our own economy …and try to create a kind of circular economy in the production system,” he explained.

Goddard proposed taking on “an integral approach” since it is necessary to recognize the limitations experienced with previous production systems.

The agricultural engineer called for utilizing the intellectual property rights to generate revenue. He also cited utilizing agro-processing methods to develop the industry.

Goddard emphasized that the production system must be viable and in sync with utilizing adequate energy sources and appropriate technology.

He stressed on the importance of a Sustainable Production system and production efficiency, and also the possibility of agro-processing investments and capacity building.

He underlined the need for a new approach to the industry, which would involve building a “phsyco-social culture.”

A regional panelist stated it was important to get a level of certification and further discussions would include “establishing some sort of science research depository”. He said St Vincent and the Grenadines has taken steps to acquire recorded data so they can gain further knowledge and insight. While in Switzerland, the country has used the cannabis project as a “social experiment…and it’s been listed as a national experiment.” – By Reginald Andrew


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