Barbados has set January 2021 for the launch of its medical cannabis sector as the country looks to gain a competitive edge over other Caribbean nations planning to capitalize on the nascent industry.

The Eastern Caribbean country will regulate activities related to medical marijuana cultivation, processing, dispensing and export by empowering the Medicinal Cannabis Licensing Authority as the main regulatory body.

Advertisement

Addressing a public forum on the upcoming industry, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Indar Weir promised an orderly launch in January, saying, “the industry must get started … People will be allowed to enter, (but) not everybody is going to be able to start at the same time.”

Weir said potential economic benefits are “something that we cannot turn a blind eye to. We have to capitalize on any opportunity that confronts us now because later on it will not be here.”

“There will be too many other options. We have to leverage our position now,” he said, according to the Barbados Government Information Service.

The minister also made assurances that the medical cannabis industry will not be a repeat of the sugar industry.

Weir said only finished products will be exported, keeping most of the value chain in the country.

“We created a complete value chain so that at any part of that value chain we can enter,” he said.

Barbados finalized the legal foundation for the medical cannabis industry one year ago.

Barbados is among a number of nations in the Caribbean and North Atlantic that either have started medical cannabis industries or plan to.

Some countries have come across unexpected hurdles.

Elected British Virgin Islands representatives passed a medical cannabis law six months ago, but the United Kingdom has thus far refused to give the pending law its stamp of approval – typically a routine procedure for Overseas Territories.

The U.K. broke its monthslong silence over the brewing issue this month, citing United Nations treaty obligations and narcotics licensing authority as the cause of the delay.

Bermuda, another Overseas Territory, took steps last week to formally lay the legal groundwork for a regulated adult-use and medical cannabis industry.

However, that country also requires the U.K. to sign off on its laws, so the bill faces an uphill battle.

Jamaica has the region’s most developed medical industry, but the country’s Cannabis Licensing Authority so far has not answered requests from Marijuana Business Daily to disclose monthly sales.

The Medicinal Cannabis Industry Bill, 2019, is available here.

The Sacramental Cannabis Bill, 2019, is available here.

Matt Lamers is Marijuana Business Daily’s international editor, based near Toronto. He can be reached at mattl@mjbizdaily.com.