ST GEORGE’S, Grenada, CMC – Caribbean governments are being urged to allow for the cultivation and exportation of marijuana for medical purposes despite it being an illegal drug in all Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries.
“People are always talking about the young men on the streets and blocks who are selling marijuana, but what we need to do is to get them involved in agriculture by encouraging them to plant marijuana for the pharmaceutical market,” said Amsale Maryam of the Association of Developmental Agencies in Jamaica.
She was contributing to the discussion on “Rural Livelihood” as part of the Caribbean Regional Civil Society Consultation, which is being used to prepare the People’s Forum communiqué for the November 27-29 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).
She told the meeting that, for instance, the cocoa plant is used for purposes other than the production of cocaine.
“By removing the youths from the streets and getting them involve in the cultivating of marijuana, we will not only see a reduction in crime but there will be a reduction in violent activities.
“This is the approach we have to take because marijuana can bring in some serious revenue,” she said, arguing that for too long “ the entire focus has being on the recreational use but its time we get away from that thinking and think beyond, the pharmaceutical industry need marijuana as a major ingredient for medication”.
Barbadian Hermon “Bongo” Lowe said the issue should be placed on the agenda for the CHOGM.
“Ganja (marijuana) is and continues to play a role in the development of the Caribbean and this needs to be discussed.
“I believe that once the right approach is adopted, ganja has the potential the change the outlook for the Caribbean. Not only will it help with creating agricultural and other high paying jobs but we can actually create a huge industry out of this.”
Lowe said he has research on the issue and is satisfied that marijuana can bring significant revenue to the region.
“Marijuana is used in the production of many medicines and that is the market we have to target, not those who are using it for recreational use. The pharmaceutical industry is using the marijuana extracts for all kinds of medicines and we can produce that industry with the raw material,” he added.
The Commonwealth Foundation, in collaboration with the Barbados-based Caribbean Policy Development Centre is hosting the three consultations that are geared towards identifying the impact of the economic and financial crises in the Caribbean, as well as to share information on climate change initiatives.
Delegates from the region will also revisit and propose alternatives to the ideological underpinnings of current models of development and to forge current partnerships based on common goals and complimentary resources, the organisers said.
“This consultation is one of the several civil society consultations, seminars and workshops taking place across the Commonwealth in preparation for the Commonwealth People’s Forum which will form an integral part of the November meeting,” said Seth Lartey, Programme Manager of the Commonwealth Foundation.