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First licences for medical ganja to be issued this year

First licences for medical ganja to be issued this year

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The first licences for the cultivation, manufacture and export of medicinal cannabis products will be issued this year in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

And finance minister, Camillo Gonsalves is predicting “extremely conservative” revenue to come from the newly established industry in the 2019-2020 period.

Gonsalves, in his presentation of the 2019 Budget on Monday afternoon, said St Vincent and the Grenadines was the second country in the Caribbean after Jamaica, to establish a medicinal cannabis industry.

“The space within which a small island state can establish an export-focussed medicinal cannabis industry is narrow and fraught with challenges – from international treaty compliance to correspondent banking relations to logistical hurdles to new burdens on the local education and health care apparatuses,”he said.

Gonsalves added that the government is attempting to balance challenges against the potential of the industry to generate strong earnings for cultivators in “the framework of a well-regulated, export-driven and value-added medicinal cannabis industry”.

The medicinal marijuana industry in its first year of establishment here is expected to generate revenue of at least EC$5million.

The finance minister said that many factors have been taken into account to generate this figure.

“This year we have taken account of the time required to establish and operationalise the Authority; the steps involved in conducting due diligence of applicants; the licensing and the establishment of cultivation and production facilities that can meet the necessary legal and technical requirements; and the actual production and export of medicinal products,” he said. “As such, 2019 revenues will be primarily derived from licensing fees, although we hope that sufficient traditional cultivators take advantage of the amnesty provisions of the cannabis legislation to generate some level of export revenue this year.”

Gonsalves added that revenue projections are expected to become more predictable once production facilities are established and licences are issued.

And he urged traditional marijuana farmers to have open minds for the possibilities of legitimate production and export of medicinal cannabis.

The finance minister further urged those who have historically stigmatised marijuana growers and users to have open minds as well to the documented medicinal benefits of the plant.

“And I urge those who advocate for a maximalist, unregulated free-for-all vis-à-vis cannabis to open their minds to the historic progress made to date, the new opportunities for living and production, and the social, legal and economic realities within which we are seeking to progress. Only together we can make medicinal cannabis work for the benefit of all Vincentians,” Gonsalves said.

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