by Eulana Weekes
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Minister of Agriculture the Hon. Samal Duggins says the newly elected government is working diligently towards the establishment of a thriving cannabis industry in the country.
During a recent briefing on Monday, August 29, the Federal Cabinet discussed the priority areas for the Cannabis Industry in the Federation and according to Minister Duggins, a decision was made to:
- Review the laws decriminalising possession and cultivation of certain quantities of marijuana in the Federation
- Initiate the long-anticipated Medical Marijuana Industry to create entrepreneurs, economic activity and to diversify the Federation’s tourism product
- Table legislation that would allow the Court to expunge the criminal records of persons convicted in the past of minor marijuana-related offences
- Table legislation that would protect the rights of cultivators
The legality of Cannabis for the purpose of medical and recreational purposes is unique across countries. However, the former Government led by the Hon. Dr. Timothy Harris made efforts to advance the establishment of the industry in the Federation with the passage of the Cannabis Bill, 2019 of St. Christopher and Nevis. The Cannabis Bill focuses primarily on eight sections; Part 1- Preliminary, which addresses the short title and commencement interpretations, Part 2- Cannabis for religious purposes, Part 3-Medicinal cannabis, Part 4- Access to medicinal cannabis, Part 5- Licensing a medicinal cannabis business, Part 6- Offences, Part 7- Appeals and Part 8- Regulations and Amendments to regulations.
In addition to establishing a framework to legalise the use of cannabis as a medicine, the proposal decriminalises the possession of the herb for up to 15 grams. The Bill allows for the cultivation of fewer than five plants on private property. The overturning of convictions for individuals who have been punished for similar amounts of the herb has also been highlighted under the Bill.
In St. Kitts and Nevis, the development of the Cannabis Industry has been a growing topic of public discourse. Despite efforts by the Rastafarian community and others to alter the image of the herb from a demonised or deviant substance to one that has great medicinal capabilities, there are individuals who continue to oppose the legalisation of Cannabis, specifically pointing to the recreational aspect or smoking as a factor that can cause behavioural problems and health issues.
During an exclusive interview with WINN FM a few months ago, Ras Iran of the Nyabinghi Theocracy Order mentioned that education is the key to eliminating the stigma associated with Cannabis. He explained that there are too many rumours and misinformation connected with the herb and that some people tend to disregard the proven benefits of cannabis or valid information provided in research, such as its healing properties and the many hygiene products that can be made and dwell more on negative things.
Meanwhile, Rastafarian and Cannabis Advocate Yahsonn Tafari, informed that he will reach out to WINN FM to comment on this developing story.