Saint Vincent and the Grenadines now has the legislative foundation to pursue medical and economic benefits from the cannabis plant otherwise known as “marijuana”, “weed” or the “herb”.
This foundation was realized when the government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines received unanimous approval of two bills from the parliament on Tuesday, December 11th, 2018.
These two bills are The Medicinal Cannabis Industry Bill 2018 and The Cannabis Cultivation (Amnesty) Bill 2018.
The passage of these bills was the result of eleven months of work led by Hon. Saboto Caesar, Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Transformation, Forestry, Fisheries, Labour and Industry.
The period was marked by important activities and milestones including the establishment of a committee of stakeholders to oversee the process, the drafting of the respective legislation, publication of the draft legislation, community consultations and sensitization, including numerous multimedia panel discussion programmes, the first tabling and reading of the bill in the House of Assembly, the establishment of a parliamentary select committee and approximately twenty (20) select committee meetings on the bills.
The main provisions of the Bills, now Acts of Parliament include:
Medicinal Cannabis Industry Act
1. The establishment of the Medicinal Cannabis Authority. The headquarters of the Authority is expected to be established at Rivulet. The functions of the Authority are as follows:
- Develop policies, procedures and guidelines to ensure that medicinal cannabis is available to patients in a safe and efficient manner;
- Regulate the supply, possession and use of medicinal cannabis;
- Review and approve medical certifications submitted by medical doctors on behalf of patients in accordance with this Act;
- Subject to subsection (2), issue licenses and other authorizations in relation to the supply, use and possession of medicinal cannabis in accordance with the provisions of this Act and Regulations made pursuant to this Act;
- Develop enforcement procedures in relation to the inspection of premises that are operated by licensees in order to ensure compliance with the provisions of this Act or any Regulations made pursuant to this Act;
- Register patients and caregivers and issue identification cards accordingly;
- Appoint sub-committees to assist it in the carrying out of its functions under this Act;
- Establish and maintain an electronic database to include information relating to patients, medical doctors, licensees, medical certifications and identification cards and to provide for the electronic tracking of the supply, possession and use of medicinal cannabis in accordance with this Act or Regulations made pursuant to this Act;
- Establish and maintain a confidential register of patients and caregivers, in accordance with Part V and such other registers as may be prescribed;
- Provide for the distribution of educational materials and conduct training programmes in relation to the development of medicinal cannabis;
- Perform such other functions assigned to it under this Act or any other enactment; and
- Do anything or enter into any arrangement, which, in the opinion of the Authority, is necessary to ensure the proper performance of its functions.
2. The establishment of a Medical Advisory Council which shall advise the Authority on:
- The medical symptoms or conditions that may be included in the list of qualifying medical conditions;
- The use and methods of administration of medicinal cannabis;
- Medicinal cannabis research and related resources;
- The maximum period for which medicinal cannabis may be prescribed to treat a qualifying medical condition;
- Proposed amendments to this Act or Regulations made pursuant to this Act;
- Guidelines for the training of licensees, medical doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health practitioners, on the supply and use of medicinal cannabis.
Cannabis Cultivation (Amnesty) Act
3. Amnesty for Traditional Cultivators. This Act serves to transition illegal cannabis farmers who have been cultivating and trading cannabis before the passage of the Bills to a legal status as licensed cultivators of Medicinal Cannabis. This aims to ensure that these stakeholders benefit from the establishment of the industry.
The chemical compounds in cannabis are known as cannabinoids. Cannabidiol (CBD) is effective in decreasing inflammation and pain and can reduce epileptic seizures; it can be used to treat addictions and mental illness. As a result, there is a growing global trend towards the use of medicines derived from cannabis for the treatment of chronic pain with treatment of cancer and related symptoms expected to be the highest growth area for its application of medicines.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) is actively approving of synthetic drugs such as (Dronabinol and Nabilone). Sativex is the first plant-derived cannabinoid approved in the UK, Canada and several European countries.
- 46 US States have decriminalized the plant either for medicinal or recreational use
- 62% of Americans support legalizing the use of marijuana.
Influential American politicians are actively lobbying for the decriminalization of marijuana at the Federal level.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines therefore has now been positioned to capitalize on this opportunity to produce and supply medicinal cannabis.
SOURCE: Ministry Of Agriculture