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(Photo: GIS Barbados)

Bajan farmers urged to find niche in medicinal cannabis

(Photo: GIS Barbados)

The Cannabis Unit in Barbados’ Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security is encouraging farmers in that country to look for opportunities when the Barbados Medicinal Cannabis Industry opens shortly.

Speaking to over 100 farmers via the Ministry of Agriculture — Cannabis Unit’s virtual Farmers Forum last Friday, head of the unit, Dr Shantal Munro-Knight, said she cognisant that small farmers were concerned that there would be no level playing field in the medicinal cannabis industry.

Dr Shantal Munro-Knight, head of the Cannabis Unit in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (Photo: Barbados Advocate)

However, she indicated that while investment into the industry would be capital instensive, small farmers and entrepreneurs could carve out their niche by working together as groups.

“We shouldn’t think as soon as day one; we are going to have the capacity to participate in the regime at the same level. There will be a period of learning. There will be a period where you will have to gather investment and see what the best ways are and learn the lessons. Therefore, we must give ourselves time,” Munro-Knight stated.

“It doesn’t mean that because one or two big investors come, that the whole industry will become monopolised. It’s a growth spectrum. The industry will expand, and it will contract, and we will have to be able to look for the opportunities to be able to participate. Even if you start to participate as a worker, it doesn’t mean that you have to end up there,” she added.

Cannabis growing in a greenhouse (File photo)

While urging participants to examine “the full value chain”, the Cannabis Unit head said that apart from cultivators and people working on extraction, the cannabis industry would require lawyers, consultants, service providers, marketing and advertising specialists, drivers, and security personnel.

“We will need a whole spectrum of people to be involved in the industry. There is a licence category for transportation…there is nothing that prevents two or three small businesspersons getting together and saying, ‘Let’s invest in transport vehicles that we will outfit to transport cannabis’. So, I hope that we are not being fatalistic about this industry. Let’s look at the opportunities that might be available, if not from day one, certainly as the industry grows and expands,” Munro-Knight pointed out.

The Barbados Medicinal Cannabis Act, 2019 will allow for eight categories of licenses once it has been proclaimed. These eight licences include: cultivator, processor, retail distribution, import, export, transportation, laboratory, and research and development.

Of the eight licence categories both the cultivator and processor licences allow for tiers. The Cultivator License tiers are: Tier 1: under one acre; Tier 2: between one and five acres; Tier 3: between five and 25 acres; and Tier 4: more than 25 acres.

The Processor License tiers are: Tier 1: under 200 square meters; Tier 2: between 200–500 square meters; and Tier 3: more than 500 square metres.