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‘Opportunities’ in medicinal cannabis industry


‘Opportunities’ in medicinal cannabis industry

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The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security’s Cannabis Unit is encourgaging farmers and other professionals to find opportunities in the Barbados Medicinal Cannabis Industry.

Speaking to over 100 farmers who attended the Ministry of Agriculture – Cannabis Unit’s virtual Farmers Forum last Friday, head of the Unit, Dr Shantal Munro-Knight, said she was aware of the fears that there would not be a level playing field in the medicinal cannabis industry for small farmers.

However, in a statement issued by Barbados Government Information Service on May 26, she said: “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 . . . . Therefore, we must give ourselves time.

“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.” 

Munro-Knight said 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 license 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,” she said.

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

Of the eight license categories both the Cultivator and Processor Licenses allows 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 and 500 square meters; and Tier 3: more than 500 square meters.

The Cannabis Unit has also been collaborating with the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Council of Barbados, to facilitate training and certification to develop industry standards for cannabis cultivation.

“We want to make sure that people who come with some knowledge are able to get a level of certification that can allow them to operate in the industry in a legitimate way and we are hoping that we cannot only have that as a national qualification but also as a Caribbean qualification. . . ,” Munro-Knight said.

The head of the Unit said, however, that access to medicinal cannabis will only be permitted under the terms and conditions set out by the laws and regulations of the Barbados Medicinal Cannabis Licensing Authority once it is up and running.

“After the Barbados Medicinal Cannabis Industry Act is proclaimed, Regulations must be laid in Parliament and go through what is called 40 days of negative resolution, which allows for debate of those regulations – and that will determine when the industry is open,” she explained. (BGIS)