As the Government of the Virgin Islands (VI) prepares to enter the medical marijuana business, the plan is to train some 40 farmers to cultivate a special strand of the plant on 40 acres of land earmarked in Paraquita Bay.
This is according to the 2020 report on the deliberations of the Standing Finance Committee (SFC) released on Thursday, December 19, 2019, which noted that farmers will also be able to set up businesses as part of the initiative.
Special strand will be planted
This comes as Premier and Minister of Finance, Hon Andrew A. Fahie (R1) indicated that a number of Canadian and American companies have made presentations to the Government and that research has been done to indicate a specific strand of marijuana that can be grown in the Territory.
"The research also indicated how the farmlands can be used to grow it as well as how local persons can be involved in the process," with the report stating that a minimum of 40 persons will be hired.
Further, according to the report, along with the marijuana cultivation, a local lab will be established for testing purposes, with the projected $5M revenues set to exceed what is currently budgeted.
One concern raised by Minister for Health and Social Development, Hon Carvin Malone (AL) is that the correct medical terminology be used when referring to the initiative, "so as to indicate that the Government has not entered the marijuana business."
Gov't to share in revenues
The report noted that in reference to the projected $5M in the first year, Hon Julian Fraser RA (R3) asked if the Government would be collecting the revenue for initiative via taxes or if the Government would be involved in the sale of the marijuana.
"The Premier stated that the Government will be doing a mixture of both. He said the Government will be selling to collect revenue and taxes. He explained that the farmers will be allowed to set up businesses and noted that when that happens, the Government will be involved with the sale of marijuana and the taxes."
Projected breakdown of revenue will be as follows; Farmers – 5%, Retail – 20% and Taxes/Imports - 20% with the Premier promising more detailed information at the launch of the project.