Barbados latest Caribbean country to propose sweeping medical cannabis law

A law was introduced in the Barbados House of Assembly to establish the legal foundation for a local medical marijuana industry.

If the law is adopted, Barbados will join other Caribbean countries JamaicaSt. Vincent and the Grenadines as well as Antigua and Barbuda in approving cannabis cultivation. A law is also in the works in Saint Kitts and Nevis.

The proposed Medicinal Cannabis Industry Act calls for the creation of the Medicinal Cannabis Licensing Authority and Medicinal Cannabis Licensing Board.

The Licensing Authority will be responsible for developing guidelines to establish the industry and the Licensing Board will oversee the policy, strategic direction and governance of the Authority.

Separately, the Barbados Drug Service is inviting companies to submit applications to supply the nation with approved medical cannabinoid products starting April 2020.

The bill – read it here – stands a good chance of being approved because the governing party holds most of the Assembly seats and the next election is not required to be held until 2023.

After being established, the Authority will develop policies, procedures and guidelines to establish a regulatory foundation for the medical marijuana industry.

The draft law does not establish a timeline for the establishment of the regulations by the Authority, so first harvests and sales may still years away – but potentially within the term of the current government.

Tiered cultivation and processing licenses would carve out business opportunities for craft growers as well as large corporations.

The agency would also be responsible for, among other things:

  • Developing enforcement procedures for the inspection of licensees.
  • Establishing and maintaining an electronic database for information relating to licensees, patients and medical practitioners.

The Authority will have to determine license fees and develop standards “and prescribe codes of practice to be observed by licensees or other persons involved in the medicinal cannabis industry,” according to the proposed bill.

Rules surrounding the use of medical cannabis by a patient still need to be determined, according to the bill, as well as “regulations in relation to the prescription and recommendation of medicinal cannabis by a medical practitioner for dispensing by a pharmacist or at a dispensary.”

It is proposed that cannabis products be sold by pharmacists, either at a pharmacy or dispensary.

Licenses will be available for a broad range of business activities, including sales, imports of starting materials and exports of finished products.

Other licenses for the medical marijuana industry will include:

  • Cultivator License (in three tiers).
  • Laboratory License for testing and analytical services.
  • Processor License (in two tiers) for processing and manufacturing cannabis material and medical cannabis products.
  • Retail Distributor License for the dispensing of medical cannabis.
  • Pharmacy License, also for the dispensing of medical marijuana.

According to the proposed law, a cultivator license will be valid for one year and is not renewable. All other licenses will be valid for three years.

A pharmacist or authorized personnel under the supervision of a pharmacist in a pharmacy or a pharmacist or authorized personnel under the supervision of a pharmacist in a dispensary may dispense medicinal cannabis to a patient and, where applicable, to a caregiver for a patient.

The only dose limitation would restrict prescriptions to up to a 30-day supply.

Matt Lamers can be reached at [email protected]

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