BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — The Barbados government says it will soon develop a framework for medical cannabis, even as it noted that decriminalisation of marijuana for recreational use will have to be decided by a referendum.
“There is no doubt that we will put a framework in place for medical cannabis within the next week or so. In fact, we have more or less taken a decision, we just need some refining and training with practitioners,” Prime Minister Mia Mottley said, adding that the island could no longer afford to miss out on the emerging cannabis industry.
Addressing business leaders here on Friday, Mottley said that Barbados would not be going about the decriminalisation of marijuana carelessly, adding that careful research would guide her administration's position.
“Barbados cannot do that without anybody else doing it in the region,” Mottley said adding that Bridgetown would have to be strategic and develop the country as a global leader in the research along with other global leaders in cannabis including Jamaica.
“We need to recognize that we must not make the mistakes of history. With respect to the cannabis, why would we seek to export when we can package and extract maximum value by having clinics as well as recuperative villages for people who want to deal with a certain aspect of pain management?
“So that the whole value added chain is delivered here, and the area in which we do it which is tourism, and that gives you a long-stay tourist,” she said.
“Thirdly, you cannot have your primary market which is Canada, the international business and financial services sector moving rapidly into new areas of investment and you can't match as a domicile, the ability to accommodate those new areas of investment because if you don't what are they going to do? Go elsewhere,” she added.
Last month, the chairperson of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Commission on Marijuana, Professor Rose-Marie Belle Antoine, called for a change in the region's cannabis laws, as the majority of Caribbean governments continue to urge caution on the way forward.
Addressing a national consultation on cannabis in Dominica, Belle Antoine said following the Commission's two-and-a-half-year public consultation she had now taken a firm position on the matter.
“… I would say I was sitting on the fence … but I want to say upfront that now that the work has been finished and we prepared the report and sent it off to the Caricom heads of government, I want to say emphatically that I am not sitting on the fence anymore, and after reviewing all of the evidence, looking at all of the laws, listening to people in the region, I am personally committed and quite clear in my mind that the law needs to change,” she said, adding that this change could be through legalisation or decriminalisation.
“I personally feel it should be legalisation,” she said, noting the health and economic benefits.
Mottley told the business leaders Friday that there would be clear strategic guidelines for Barbados on how to devise a policy that puts this country in a competitive position in the cannabis industry.
An opinion poll conducted in several Caribbean countries including Barbados by the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES) on the issue of the decriminalisation of cannabis found that more than 45 per cent of Barbadians were in favour of decriminalisation.