The Medicinal Cannabis Authority (MCA) says it is reviewing at least five applications for licences worth more than EC$30 million (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) as it awarded its first licence to Grow Antigua and Barbuda, a consortium that includes the Antigua and Barbuda government, the Rastafarian Movement and the private sector.
MCA chairman, Daven Joseph, who spoke at the ceremony where the first licence was handed over to the company, said “the total number of persons that are predicted to be employed in these five businesses …will be more than 200”.
Joseph said the projection is for the industry to contribute at least 10 per cent to economic output in the next five to 10 years.
He said the government intends to have local content and local ownership in every enterprise established in the cannabis industry.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne said he had always maintained that the first cannabis licence to be granted in Antigua and Barbuda had to include the members of the Rastafarian community.
Browne said that given that global medicinal marijuana sector is valued in excess of EC$30 billion it was necessary for the island to be ahead of the curve.
“We hope that this partnership will be a sustaining partnership. Obviously, it will take some time for the business to mature and to make sustainable profits. We have to be careful not to be making demands too early and obviously to try and plough back as much of the profits to expand the business and even to diversify into other areas”.
Andrew Moody Stuart, a director of “Grow Antigua and Barbuda said: “We really have to look at what the industry is here, what size it is what do we need what is the market, what do we need to supply it and definitively look to regional markets where we could trade technology and materials between islands”.