The latest developments suggest that Barbados is closer than ever to launching its domestic medical cannabis industry. The Barbados Cannabis Authority announced last July a new partnership with the tech company GrowerIQ, which will manage the monitoring and reporting of all cannabis production on the island.
This partnership aims to “set cutting-edge standards” not only for the island’s thriving medical cannabis industry, but also for the region as a whole.
A spokesperson for the Barbados Medicinal Cannabis Licensing Authority (BMCLA) then declared to Business of Cannabis : “The BMCLA intends to continue to develop policies and guidelines that should create an environment for the industry to create high-quality, targeted medical cannabis products made with distinctive Bajan flavor and excellent value added, and which can establish themselves in the international market as a reflection of a creative vision of Barbados and of great value to this country. »
Cannabis in Barbados
Barbados, like its neighboring Caribbean islands, has a long history with cannabis, so it has always been in high demand.
This history has led to particularly strict rules regarding the possession and cultivation of cannabis. Until recently, anyone accused of possession for personal use could be fined up to US$112,000 or face up to five years in prison, while those found in possession of more than 15 grams could be accused of “trafficking” and risk a sentence of up to life in prison.
However, in 2019, the Barbadian government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Mia Mottley, passed the Medical Cannabis Industry Act, with regulations to follow in 2020.
The BMCLA explained that, in an effort to ensure “the rollout was as inclusive as possible”, the Joint Select Committee requested presentations from the public on their expectations for the medical cannabis industry.
A “cannabis” unit, under the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Safety and Nutrition, was also created in 2019 to facilitate the deployment of the medical cannabis industry, with a team responsible for studying and ‘examine best practices from around the world, including those of regional partners like Jamaica and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, which have already opened up their cannabis industries.
“Once this groundwork was completed and the legislation passed after extensive consultation, the BMCLA opened its doors to the public on January 18, 2021.”
In December 2020, in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, which had significantly impacted the island’s economy, the Minister of Agriculture and Food Safety, Indar Weir, declared: “The industry must start… (The advantages economics are) something we cannot ignore. We must take advantage of our position now. »
In September 2020, a referendum was held, which saw the decriminalization of possession of up to 14 grams of cannabis, with those caught in the act being fined $200 in the form of a ‘penalty notice’. fixed”, similar to a traffic ticket.
A vision for the future
After just under two years of existence, the BMCLA has approved nine licensees, for a total of 18 licenses.
Barbados’ licensing structure includes eight distinct categories with varying levels, covering everything from micro-cultivators to importers, exporters, laboratories and retail distributors.
This latter category allows licensees to establish a “therapeutic establishment”, a place where one can receive a prescription for medicinal cannabis from a pharmacist and consume it on site under the care and attention of the pharmacist. health professionals.
“This allows for the development of spa-style medical tourism, where the establishment can be located on a beach or in the beautiful Barbados countryside, where one can also enjoy the atmosphere,” explained the health organization. regulation.
Additionally, licenses are granted for a period of five years, inclusive of all fees, allowing licensees “not only to start their business, but also to have the opportunity to grow without having to worry about annual renewal fees.”
With the foundations laid for the island’s businesses to thrive, the new partnership with BMCLA marks the start of the next phase, during which the body will focus on ensuring quality products and “transparency so to ensure regulatory compliance while safeguarding patient well-being.”