The Barbados government says the medicinal cannabis industry will get underway in January next year, giving the assurances also that interested individuals will be allowed to enter the sector, but not at the same time.
Agriculture and Food Security Minister, Indar Weir, also made it clear that when the industry gets started, it will not be a repeat of the sugar industry.
“The industry must get started…. people will be allowed to enter, [but] not everybody is going to be able to start at the same time,” he told a public forum on the medicinal cannabis industry.
Weir said that countries such as Jamaica and St Vincent and the Grenadines started before Barbados, but did not issue a lot of licences.
He said the Mia Mottley government wanted to facilitate people equally, while managing the “narrative” to ensure that the wrong impression was not sent internationally.
However, Weir said Barbados was known for its hospitality; delivering on promises; being politically stable; and having a good reputation in the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States of America.
As a result, he said, more people were enquiring about Barbados’ industry, and more investors were showing interest in coming to the island.
“It is really, really a phenomenal thing, and it is something that we cannot turn a blind eye to. We have to capitalise on any opportunity that confronts us now because later on it will not be here,” he said, adding “there will be too many other options. We have to leverage our position now”.
Weir also said that the medicinal cannabis industry would not be handled like the sugar industry, noting the only thing being exported would be a finished product.
“We created a complete value chain so that at any part of that value chain we can enter,” he said, telling the public forum that the government would seek to facilitate their suggestions, and make changes where possible.
“I am prepared to make changes where changes are definitely reasonable enough for us to accommodate. I am prepared to listen and hear what the people of Barbados have to say.
“If you want to offer a suggestion; if you feel passionately about something, please let us hear you; and where we can accommodate, we will accommodate, and where there are times when we can’t, … we have to…let you know that, and give you the reasons why,” Weir said.