By Joy-Ann Gill
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (BGIS) — Barbadians everywhere can participate in the medicinal cannabis industry. This was underscored last Thursday as minister of agriculture and food security, Indar Weir engaged Barbadians overseas on the online Dialogue with the Diaspora session, hosted by Barbados’ ambassador to the United States of America and the Organization of American States, Noel Lynch, on the Zoom platform.
While examining the myriad opportunities available to the diaspora, the minister recalled that there were several Barbadians and others throughout the region – in St Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda and Jamaica – of the opinion that the first people who should benefit should be those who were punished for the use of cannabis when it was illegal or when there was no medicinal cannabis industry.
However, he said: “We are cognisant of the fact that we have to embrace all, and that we have to entertain the views of all Barbadians. And therefore, we are now looking at mechanisms that can trigger an approach for Barbadians also who may not have the financial resources, but have a desire and a passion and they have had exposure to cultivation, to see how we can transition them into the industry. This is the work that we are undertaking with the BMCLA and the government of Barbados to make sure all Barbadians can have a fair shot at this new deal for Barbadians.”
He further told the diaspora that if the country continued on this track, it may see the emergence of an industry dominated by Barbadians, and giving them a chance to leverage their position further in tourism.
Minister Weir, acknowledging that this would allow for health and wellness spas to provide a new option for visitors coming to Barbados, added that the industry would also allow for training in this area and provide a new option in security by way of the supply of security systems and electronic devices by persons to be able to protect the medicinal cannabis industry.
Barbadians also heard that although they may not participate directly in cannabis cultivation, processing or even administration, opportunities would be made available for them to provide systems that could work and provide for the industry, as suppliers.
“Giving us then an overall approach to economic enfranchisement that we have never seen before,” the agriculture minister stressed, as he invited those in the diaspora to participate in the medicinal cannabis industry.
Meanwhile, ambassador Lynch, noting that for years Barbados’ economic development hinged on two planks, namely sugar and tourism/hospitality, told the diaspora:
“This opportunity to invest or to create a medicinal or medical cannabis industry is, in my opinion, one of the best steps that we have had, creating great options for us as a society to look to another plank of economic development outside of the two that we know best now, which are tourism and international business.
“Sugar is not as strong as it used to be, but you know that it still continues to be an important part of our makeup. […] And I believe that the way that government is going, looking at another option is important to us.”