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Backyard marijuana growing will kill the industry – Dr Thompson

Backyard marijuana growing will kill the  industry – Dr Thompson
Left to Right: Dr Jerrol Thompson & Patel Matthews

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If persons are allowed to plant marijuana trees in their backyards, throwing all cultivation regulations out the window, marijuana production in the country will suffer.

This advice has come from Jerrol Thompson, chief executive officer (CEO) of the Medicinal Cannabis Authority (MCA) who said on Sunday night that the New Democratic Party’s (NDP) Roland “Patel” Matthews does not understand certain things when it comes to marijuana cultivation.

Matthews has stated at more than one of his party’s political rallies that an NDP government will allow persons to plant marijuana in their backyard.

“The New Democratic Party, we are promising you something different, something that is going to benefit you as a ganja farmer,” Matthews said at a recent meeting.

He noted that in today’s world, it is not justifiable that you legalize marijuana and arrest someone for having a weed cigarette.

“The New Democratic Party, we will be legalizing at least two ounces for recreational purposes, you have to vote for that,” Matthews said while noting that they will allow for the planting of three to five marijuana trees in back yard gardens.

But Thompson told SEARCHLIGHT on Monday that for many years, he has been an advisor to Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves and director of special projects, and in 2018 he was part of a special project looking to develop the Medicinal Marijuana Act and he was later asked to become the CEO of the MCA and develop the Act further.

“…And this what we have done with all the various elements, the banking, the seeds, the testing facility and training and retraining of traditional cultivators as well as leaning from them.

“I think that the various standards that we have tried to achieve in order to export product requires a firm level of understanding of what we supposed to do,” Thompson, a medical doctor said.

He said the NDP and Matthews are proposing four plants in a backyard but that will create huge problems.

Going into more detail during the ULP’s manifesto launch at the Grammar School Playing Field on Sunday evening, Thompson said the cannabis plant has a male and female and the female is what you want.

He said the male produces pollen and if that is released in the air it will fertilize the female plants, “and when you think you are getting good quality, the quality is gone right down.”

Thompson said we need to properly control the industry and having plants in somebody’s backyard where some of them are male and some are female is going to cause an explosion of pollen in the atmosphere and destroy the cannabis industry.

He added that many traditional farmers have been trained in new ideas, showing them how to cultivate using good agricultural practices while also learning from them.

“As a result, a lot of different countries are looking at SVG as one of the gold standards of producing some of the best quality medicinal cannabis in the world,” Thompson said.  

He noted also that a state of the art laboratory has been built at Enhams, and that lab will test our local cannabis for purity, impurities and other things and as a result, our weed is going to continue to be highly respected in the world.
Thompson said also that he was given a document by Junior “Spirit” Cottle, head of the Cannabis Revival Committee (CRC), that was sourced from various cultivators around the region and that document says that SVG is considered to be the gold standard on how to do things and we have been congratulated by countries in the region and asked to teach them.

Thompson stressed also that another issue is that if you have everyone growing weed in their backyards, the cultivators will see a drop in sales.

“You can’t have little children going and using this because I have to tell you that with some kids, the cannabis can affect them and we are responsible to protect them,” the infectious disease specialist said.

When he addressed the issue, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said an explosion of marijuana cultivation in backyard gardens will expose many persons, including students, to the drug and that could be problematic as marijuana affects different persons in different ways.

“Patel wants to impress town man and Bequia man about ganja, but he really don’t know it.

“Friday never even plant peas in he life, why he don’t shut up he mouth about agricultural issues,” Gonsalves said at the rally on Sunday.  

The Prime Minister also said legalizing marijuana in the manner proposed by the NDP will cause many problems including the country being sanctioned by organizations overseas as international law does not permit it.

“You wouldn’t be able to get your Western Union money, you wouldn’t be able to get your Money Gram money, you are not going to have corresponding banking relations for the commercial banks, especially Bank of SVG, it go be like a Penny Bank,” Gonsalves said.

Matthews is of the view that it does not make sense that North Leeward produces the best recreational marijuana and they are not currently making money from it.

“We will be reorganizing, reshaping the ganja legislation that the ULP has in place that is killing the local farmers.
“We are going to ensure that the farmers…that those ganja farmers that you will be able to do good business and make money,” Matthews told a recent meeting.

He said that in 2018, the ULP brought the marijuana Bill to Parliament and the NDP supported. Matthews said he personally supported the Act because he has friends and family who were killed while trying to get a market for ganga using speedboats to get overseas.

He said he was also a marijuana farmer and came out of the mountains in 1984 to become a teacher.

“The government boasted that they made $16 million last year from marijuana…North Leeward is proud of ganga and the world has embraced it, so it is time for farmers to make money,” Matthews said.