“It is a business,” Deputy Premier and Minister for Natural Resources and Labour Dr. the Hon. Kedrick Pickering declared as he made mention of the possibility of growing medical marijuana here in the Territory during the House of Assembly sitting on 8 March.
The Deputy Premier announced that the subject is one to be explored as Government moves to take the agriculture sector to the next level. Hon. Pickering disclosed that a number of Caribbean countries have made the move and others are looking into the prospects of medical marijuana and he noted that the BVI might decide to consider the subject.
“To be absolutely clear the issue is a very current topic and based on what is taking place in the general region there is a rush by several Caribbean countries to get in on the economics of producing cannabis for export to especially Canada. The economics of it dictates that we should be mindful of it and look into the possibilities,” the Minister for Natural Resources said.
However, Dr. Pickering stressed that the government nor his Ministry has not taken a position on the subject and have not even had discussions on the matter. In providing clarification on the marijuana point Hon. Pickering said: “I don’t think myself or this government has made any decision about the whole issue of medical marijuana…but may I be extremely clear on this it is not the government position or government interest to produce medical marijuana. It is a business and like all other business interest, any proposal put forward to the government has to be looked at. “
“If it is the government intention that it might be a business worth embarking on by allowing others to invest in it then there is a long road ahead to put a legislative framework in place,” he added.
The Minister for Natural Resources further stated that the consideration for medicinal plans does not only extend to marijuana but other plants found in the Territory: “Another avenue of development in the agri-business industry is the whole concept in the research in local medicinal plants. We know that in the BVI there is a vast array of bush medicines; the time is now right for us to explore these opportunities and develop this sector of our agri-industry. This includes exploration into the opportunities that exist in the production and the distribution of medical marijuana.”
Back in 2014 the question whether government would consider legalizing marijuana in any form was put to the Ministers of government during the 3 November 2014 NDP radio programme.
During the program a resident boldly enquired about the government position on the medical marijuana industry. He told the panel of government Ministers “We are living in a time of the Virgin Islands history when we have two doctors; one is the Premier, and one is the Deputy Premier. The doctors in the world are trying to legalize medicine marijuana, but we are not hearing anything from the Government here.”
In response to the caller statement, Premier Smith recommended that more information be obtained before medical marijuana use is advocated in the community. In fact, the BVI Leader said: “In many other areas it is suggested that there are also some benefits, but these are benefits which have to be well selected and carefully chosen. I think that it is something that we as a community, we as a medical community will have to study carefully before we get around to using those in the community or hospital services.”