Leader of the Opposition Hon. Marlon Penn has used the term “smoke and mirrors” in relations to the medical marijuana plan that government has announced as well as other mentioned revenue generators. Mr. Penn accused the Government of putting the cart before the horse as he stated that the legislation necessary for the industry has not made it to the House of Assembly. 

While speaking at an Opposition press conference on 23 January Hon. Penn noted: “The basic foundation of what needs to happen has not happened as yet. The biggest challenge with this industry is the banking of funds…There is no plan, just a lot of smoking mirrors, a lot of sensationalizing for our young people who want these things, who want to hear of these things and there is no substance on how they are going to benefit from these things.” 

Hon. Penn in elaborating on the point that attention needs to be placed on the legislative aspects of the medical marijuana plan commented: “Marijuana is illegal in the BVI, and we are yet to see any legislation or hear any discussion or any draft to talk about the decriminalization of marijuana. There is really a lot of hype with no substance behind the whole plan and the whole issue of medicinal marijuana in general,” he said. 

Hon. Penn made reference to some of the issues other jurisdictions have faced and mentioned that the industry can have an effect on the Territory’s banks. “The biggest challenge with this industry is the banking of funds. You are asking our banks which they will not do to bank funds. If they do bank these funds for medical marijuana, they have a risk of losing their licences.” 

Meanwhile, Senior Member of the House of Assembly and Third District Representative Hon. Julian Fraser announced that he was not able to get much information on the proposal, and as such he is also curious about Government’s medical marijuana plan: “I too would like to know about this medical marijuana, but I can tell you something right now, it is popular. It is impossible to support something that you don’t know about. I need to know more about it, so I can see exactly what it is so I can make an intelligent decision on whether or not I would support it,” Hon. Fraser told the media when he was asked to weigh in on the subject. 

While the Senior Opposition Member did not comment on the medical marijuana plan, he announced that he was surprised at how quickly government commenced working on the medical marijuana plan: “It is something that is catchy right now, and there has been talk about it before this Government came in, and I was surprised of the vigor in which they took it on. But, like everything else, the programmes that the Government has, the background and the details don’t filter down to the Opposition and I am not saying that they are hiding it from us,” Hon. Fraser said.