All systems are go for the 2018 HempFest, which is an event aimed at cannabis awareness and is being held in the Territory for the first time on 7 July at Foxy’s on Jost Van Dyke.
The promotion of the events in past week has attracted a lot of discourse in various corners of the Territory as it is being touted as an avenue for discourse on the decriminalization of marijuana /cannabis.
The event’s organizer Thomas Warner in an interview with The Island Sun newspaper explained that it is hoped that the fest would serve as an avenue for positive conversation on the benefits of marijuana.
He said: “There are a lot of reasons why the issue of legalization of marijuana should be considered – one of them of course is the medical aspects of the use of cannabis. If you have someone in your life suffering from Cancer it is known that cannabis can provide some relief.” Another reason, Warner noted, is the benefits that can be derived from cannabis products.
The event organizer disclosed that he has someone in his life suffering from cancer and noted that this situation is one of the motivators for his push to see a legislative change in the BVI books as it relates to enabling medical use of marijuana.
There are a lot of other jurisdictions that have decriminalized marijuana and Warner listed a few, as well as some the US States, as well as Caribbean countries that are pushing along in this regard.
He said that the response to the announcement of the Hemp Fest has been good and noted that although he has had discussions with legislators none has committed to attending the event: “Nobody is saying they will definitely be there. I think these are sensitive political times so I think they are going to gage interest and then make their decision,” Warner explained.
It was noted that US Virgin Islands Senator Positive Nelson would be the keynote speaker at Hemp Fest and he will be addressing specifically the legislative process that he went through in St Croix to facilitate the use of medical marijuana. “He [Positive Nelson] is going to be encouraging the legislators here to have a similar approach or point of view,” the organizer said.
Warner spoke of the societal effect of the present law of sending persons to jail for small quantities of marijuana. He said: “If you take a young man who is between the ages of 18 and 25 and you put him in prison for five years, you are going to get a much different person when he comes out. He will go in youthful and innocent and he will come out schooled in all the wrong things…Than if he had been given a misdemeanor ticket and assigned a 100 hours of community service.”
Additionally, the event organizer said that the New Horizon Ferry service will be offering additional ferry services on the day. He also noted that there is no entry fee. As it relates to entertainment the organizer said that it was decided to focus on more local acts as opposed to bringing in performers from overseas.
A major part of the event is the display of hemp products. Warner said that two vendors who specialize in hemp products will be on site showcasing their products, among which would be items such as hemp milk.