ANDRE DE CAIRES. CHAIRMAN OF THE CANNABIS MOVEMENT OF SAINT LUCIA

LIKE EVERY LEADING GLOBAL ECONOMY,  DIVERSITY IS A NATURAL EVOLUTION. This  is only compounded when we consider that St Lucia  is now in deep need to revitalize its economy in both a  meaningful and community impactful way.  For far too long, many Governments have shyed away  from utilizing the asset of legalizing Marijuana and industrial  hemp growing. However increasingly  shrewd economies around the world, including  the USA and Canada, have embraced change and this change has brought deep  advantages in regards to gainful employment and economic empowerment. A  growing number of leading minds believe that this crop can have tremendous  impact upon our economy and its derivative can have long term positive impact  on both our social development and a stable economic rise.  From the 70s through to the 90s, the island’s main GDP earner was other  agricultural produce, namely bananas and for over 3 decades our economy  thrived with agricultural exports. We took advantage of our top grade quality  soil and natural environment, but with the advent of the WTO and the new trade regime, we as the  Caribbean lost our preferential trading status enjoyed under the Lome convention and that signalled  the end of the Caribbean banana industry. An industry that played a pivotal part in the country’s  economy as a major employment provider and thus a devastating blow to many of our labor force.  In 1998 however, the Industrial Hemp initiative submitted a proposal requesting permission to  the then Government to conduct research trials on Hemp in order to develop a cultivar or cultivars  that could be introduced into the country’s agricultural diversification program, therefore maximizing  on our high-skilled farming labor force. The intention is to use raw material traditionally exported  with home cultivated value added therefore starting up a high-end body care industry. Agriculturally  we have coconut oil, the cocoa and other raw ingredients necessary to create the products. With the  addition of hemp oil, the value of the end product increases dramatically. This would help reestablish  both the coconut and cocoa industries that have been in decline for years and give the country’s vast  amount of farmers the ability to earn a meaningful salary from these crops once more.  Apart from the multitude of high quality hemp products that can be produced, the  marijuana produced organically can provide for the already lucrative  local recreational market. The estimation of which is earmarked to be EC  $50,000,000.00 per year. With strict regulation we also ensure that we  provide less opportunities for criminals and the international illegal drug  trade that has brought sorrow to many communities. We provide gainful  legal opportunities for communities to produce legal and medically  approved products.  There is also the opportunity to cater for the tourism market with  cruise ships visiting the island daily and the ability to provide for the  vibrant hotel industry with its hundreds of thousands stay-over visitors per  year. A similar proposition that Amsterdam has successfully implemented.  I believe that St Lucia should be moving swiftly into the present and with forward thinking,  we can capitalize on our traditional farming communities and traditions in order to unleash a  magnitude of national economic empowerment and meaningful employment by legalizing  industrial production of Hemp and Marijuana. The current administration has been far too slow  in producing vibrant economic change and by doing so, we have in essence created a restrictive  and deteriorating future for our nations young labour force

“For far too long, many

Governments have shyed

away from utilizing

the asset of legalizing

Marijuana and industrial

hemp growing”

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