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SVG explores possibility of exporting legal marijuana to Canada

SVG explores possibility of exporting legal  marijuana to Canada

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Government is currently holding talks with business people from Canada with a view to seeing how St Vincent and the Grenadines can benefit from marijuana cultivation.

Speaking at a press briefing last week, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said that talks have begun with Canadian entrepreneurs, as the Government is seeking to give consideration to the issue of the cultivation {{more}}of a particular strain of marijuana under controlled circumstances, with the requisite security.

The deal, if it comes through, will see local marijuana being planted for export to Canada for pharmaceutical purposes, something that is also being pursued in Jamaica.

The Prime Minister said that in Canada, like many other places, licences are granted to persons to provide marijuana for medical reasons and there are thousands of persons who have been prescribed marijuana by doctors for use because of medical ailments.

“It’s areas like that we need to examine,” said Gonsalves who, however, noted that the process is not a simple one, but involves many technical details.

“…the people would have to get the licences; you will have to say what strain of marijuana it is, the conditions under which you are growing it,” stressed the Prime Minister; who added that the local Government is looking into a way for the country to benefit.

During his marijuana conversation last week, Gonsalves also noted that he was recently misquoted by a Barbadian journalist and misunderstood by Catholic Bishop Jason Gordon, both of whom inferred that he said marijuana should be legalized.

He stressed that decriminalizing marijuana for limited purposes is different from the question of legalizing it. The Bishop had said in an interview that he is totally against marijuana because of his interaction with persons who had smoked marijuana and were affected negatively.

Going further, Gonsalves said that under our law, doctors can prescribe marijuana, but he is not aware if many persons know this.

“Of course, the conditions under which such prescription could be done is very controlled and it is very understandable, because marijuana can be … misused, but the fact that it can be abused and misused cannot take us away from the fact that it contains properties that, if administered in an organized scientific way, it can aid persons with certain ailments,” said Gonsalves, who noted that he is being modern and scientific about the marijuana issue.

The Drugs (Prevention and Misuse) Act, Section 9 makes it possible for the Minister to authorize actitivites that otherwise would be unlawful under earlier provisions. The Act also allows the Minister to make regulations stating, “that it is not unlawful under section 6 (1) for a doctor, dentist or veterinary practitioner acting in his capacity as such, to prescribe, administer, manufacture, compound or supply a controlled drug.”

He said that he is aware that what he is saying may be controversial, but we must stop the hysteria and have a sensible discussions through mediums like the CARICOM Marijuana Commission, as the issue has many complexities before it becomes a legal industry.

But while the Prime Minister notes this, he said that a recent request by lawyer Grant Connell to have a marijuana plant displayed at the Grassroot Tennis Club (GTC) in Richmond Hill is not possible at this point as laws would have to amended and adding that a plant at the GTC must be under proper security and other arrangements.

“In relation to this ganja plant, I mean, I know Grant; I think Grant did it for dramatic purposes and for the discussion to go on and for you to ask the kind of question, but he knows that it can’t be done like that; he must know it can’t be done like that”, stressed the Prime Minister.

Connell has written to Minister of Health Luke Browne for permission to have the marijuana plant on display and said last week that while he did not hear Gonsalves’ response on the request, he was told what was said.

“My letter to the good minister referred to the law as it is and what the minister has the power to do,” said Connell, who added that any measure that has to be put in place, he is happy to oblige.

“If my request is denied, then so be it; the journey continues,” said Connell, adding that he is hopes that this country does not “miss the boat” on the marijuana issue.

“It is not about Grant Connell; my opinion does not matter. It is about the way forward on the issue of marijuana, a topic and plant that has created so much fear. Are we seriously dealing with the issue or not? After all, you can’t play mas and fraid powder,” said Connell.(LC)

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