Barbados’ first two medicinal cannabis licences should be issued by June as the fledgling industry enters a new phase that will include more opportunities for Barbadians.
This was announced yesterday during the Estimates Debate by Minister of Agriculture and Food and Nutritional Security Indar Weir and chairman of the Barbados Medicinal Cannabis Licensing Authority Anthony Bryan.
With Bryan reporting that there were 11 entities now going through the application process, Weir said: “We are at the point of issuing a cultivation licence. I know that we are very close also to issuing a therapeutic spa licence.”
The minister told the House of Assembly that “this is all happening now that people are coming out of COVID and feel confident that they can proceed with this large type of investment”.
“Investment in medicinal cannabis is by no means small, it takes huge investment to get in but the returns are great,” he added.
Weir said while it appeared the medicinal cannabis industry licensing process had taken long, progress was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and last year.
He and Bryan also stressed that the due diligence process was a detailed one that could not be rushed.
“As it relates now to the issue of licences for people who have applied, first of all there is a protocol under the legislation where you have to do your due diligence and that due diligence takes a period of time,” Weir explained.
“So it can take as high as six months in some instances before you issue a licence because it comes with very strict restrictions. We have to make sure that we clear all of the protocols that are required.”
The St Philip West representative also told the House that Government was taking a number of steps to give Barbadians an opportunity to participate in the medicinal cannabis industry.
This included enabling participants in the Farmers’ Empowerment and Enfranchisement Drive (FEED) programme not only to plant crops or raise livestock but also to be involved in the medicinal cannabis aspect of agriculture.
Weir said Government was also establishing a new company that would be solely owned by Barbadians.
“They will be carried just like how we carry the sugar industry for a period of time and then transitioned on to their own,” he noted.
“This matter is currently being pursued with the ministry. We are at the stage where we have prepared the Cabinet paper and once we get the blessings of Cabinet we will be able to deliver for Barbadians to be actual owners in the medicinal cannabis industry.
“When we looked at the numbers we recognised that Government can get out of that space between three to five years and therefore it represents an opportunity for Barbadians to own whilst at the same time Government getting a return on its investment,” he said.
Weir also reminded that “the legislation allows for Barbadians to own 100 per cent of any investment in the medicinal cannabis industry and that is really similar to what we are doing with renewable [energy] industry but equally . . . any foreign direct investment that is coming must allow for 30 per cent ownership between Barbados and CARICOM,” he said. (SC)