When the history of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) is recorded, it will reveal that the work of the Medicinal Cannabis Authority (MCA) and the Government in establishing a modern medicinal industry is one of the most transformative things pertaining to development that has ever been pursued by SVG as a nation and as a people.
This is according to Minister of Agriculture Saboto Caesar, who made the comments on September 14, at the headquarters of the MCA, as he delivered remarks during the ceremony of the beginning of a media tour to several medicinal cannabis operations.
The minister said that lifting such an industry off the ground is no easy task, explaining that it took and still is taking hard work, many sleep-deprived nights and further urged that one has to be resolute to ensure that this industry is successful and progresses in the spirit of success.
Stating that Cannabis has been cultivated in SVG for several decades. In the spirit of past chief leaders, Joseph Chatoyer, Duvalle and Fannie Greig, a decision was taken to be nothing less than leaders in the medicinal cannabis industry. On that note, the Minister asserted that SVG is leading the charge in CARICOM and further stated that SVG is the leading country as the cause advances in the medicinal cannabis industry.
Caesar said he is elated that a company, upon receipt of the first dispensing license to operate a medicinal cannabis pharmacy, has issued letters to two traditional cultivators’ groups, expressing the intention of designating a special shelf to place products from these groups. Minister Caesar said that this is nothing less than revolutionary.
Recognizing the hard work of every stakeholder, he further praised the traditional cultivators for being at the centre of the industry and noted that SVG has attracted many foreign direct investors who have been working hard. He said that efforts continue to share information with them, because according to Caesar, whilst there is a lot to be learnt, there is likewise much to be shared.
Meanwhile, Dr Jerrol Thompson, Chief Executive Officer of the MCA, took the opportunity to highlight several milestones which have been achieved thus far: legal correspondent banking; MCA’s collaboration with the leading seed to sale company in Canada, Ample Organics, towards the development of a National Cannabis Tracking system, construction of a state-of-the-art analytical service provider (Laboratory) which will provide testing for all aspects of the industry, and the gazetting of the patient access to medicinal cannabis regulations.
Speaking at the construction site of a manufacturing facility for medicinal cannabis, Chief Operating Officer (COO) Terral Mapp, said that the medicinal cannabis industry is multi-dimensional and inclusive.
He said that the industry is not just solely focussing on the cultivation of cannabis, but encompasses value addition through processing, research, dispensing and exporting. He further noted that significant investments are not only being made by foreign investors but more importantly, by major local players.
As it relates to inclusivity, Mapp highlighted that traditional cultivators are not only obtaining licenses, but some are finding employment on farms as Master Growers, while women and youths are being gainfully employed. This he said augurs well for the country’s thrust towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) of economic growth, and decent work as well as gender equality.