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Just my take … cannabis

Just my take … cannabis

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Editor: The on-going conversation is lively, as it is varied, but there is ONE underlying commonality… FREE UP THE HERB! … and for good reason too. All varieties of cannabis; indica, sativa and lesser known ruderalis, all have significant benefits: medical, spiritual, recreational and economic. So what can the government do at this juncture?

Firstly, declare an amnesty with immediate effect (you don’t need to pass a law for that) where no person will be arrested for public use or possession of the herb, while fine tuning the bill for FULL LEGALISATION. However, there must be restrictions of where the herb can be used. No burning of the herb in public transport, in banks or any place where the public line up for services, like the paying of water and other utility bills, in government departments and in declared NO SMOKING areas like gas stations, engine rooms and so on. This amnesty will “ease the tension’ across our society and allow for a better balanced dialogue that will yield results that the majority of persons will be satisfied with. That means that the Select Committee will have to do more listening and less talking in order to get the suggestions and recommendations from the various cannabis stakeholders. That is in the short term.

The medium term can focus on getting the right wording in the proposed Bill, and this can be done in writing by the supporting interest groups, but also through meetings with farmers, rastafarian community and cannabis exporters … in short, include the sound advice from all stakeholders While this is happening, the long term phase of getting prepared for the actual production, including irrigation, construction of green houses, and local production of organic fertilizers and seeds can get underway. Our product MUST be organic if we are going to get the best price possible. More can be said.

But nothing much has been said about prices paid to farmers. During the second phase of discussions, farmers and buyers need to agree on what price will be paid for the type and grade of cannabis produced. The farmers and government must also agree on a FAIR price that will be paid as taxes to the government, but this must not be a unilateral (one-sided) agreement, where the govt says you have to pay X amount and farmers not happy with that. Now when that agreement is entered, farmers must also comply unless the dynamic changes. We could be affected by hurricanes or torrential rain which can affect crops, so we need to factor in all real possibilities and so come up with a document that most, if not all stakeholders are happy with.

The third phase ideally would be to consolidate production and concurrently diversify into adding value by producing cannabis oil and tinctures among other products. Our strong rum industry need not worry because to make tinctures you have to soak the cannabis in alcohol … so there we go. There are quite a lot of possibilities and I eagerly look forward to our national agricultural products exhibition for our 40th anniversary of Independence. More can be said about branding and marketing.

Finally, and from the recreational aspect which seems to be underplayed but which also has significant benefits; SVG can host an annual Cannabis Cup competition and with that hold an East Caribbean Reggae festival which will no doubt attract international artistes and numerous visitors, as well as giving our local musical bards the exposure they will enjoy and benefit from. More can be said, but for right now, just FREE UP THE HERB !!!

Donald De Riggs.

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