Minister for Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture, Dr the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley (R7) said in an attempt to have a responsible cannabis industry in the Virgin Islands, a Cannabis Licensing Authority will be created to guide the sector.
Dr Wheatley spoke of his government’s plans for medical marijuana during a live discussion on the Cannabis Licensing Bill, 2020, on Tuesday, June 23, 2020, on Facebook.
“The good thing is we have been able to learn from many persons who have legalised it already, and that’s why we are putting together this Cannabis Licensing Authority that will issue guidance in terms of how this plant will be regulated. There is the potential if we don’t regulate it properly to have problems, but we want to have a very responsible cannabis industry here in the Virgin Islands that would export and that would provide some types of benefits for persons who want to do medical tourism for instance,” he stated.
He said the Licensing Authority Board would comprise persons from the legal fraternity, medicine, law enforcement and business.
Investor to help
Dr Wheatley said, there will be an investor who will assist local farmers a great deal.
He explained: “So how it will really work is we will have someone who is an investor, who is a farmer, who has the international markets that we can export to, who can come and buy directly from our farmers. The investor will show them exactly how to grow the marijuana because when you are exporting marijuana, it is very important that you abide by the international standards and regulations.”
“I know there are persons who grow marijuana in the BVI presently, but you cannot grow it any type of way if you want to be able to export it. It has to be a very specific way; the investor will be able to teach them those methods and equip them on their farms and show them everything that they have to do from start to finish. And, the investor will buy the marijuana from them, process it, which will create jobs again, in terms of the processing, and to be able to export it to places around the world. There has been a great deal of demand for marijuana internationally,” he added.
He said already 700 acres of land ‘in the hills of Paraquita Bay’ has been made available to the government; however, only 50 acres will be used for the time being.
“Then we will evaluate the market and see if there is any room for growth.”
Minister Wheatley also mentioned that persons in the Territory are really interested in this sector.
“When the Premier first announced that we will have a 100 farmers, I probably got about a 1,000 letters. So many persons indicated an interest in becoming one of those farmers. We had persons from all over the territory, Anegada, Jost van Dyke, Virgin Gorda, every district and all the District Representatives got letters and inquiries,” he remarked.
“Persons are very excited about the possibility. I don’t even know how we will choose the farmers because there will be so many applications,” he said.
The bill as introduced in the House of Assembly (HoA) has been published in the Official Gazette, and members of the public can access it for their information and feedback.