Cannabis law reform continues to gain momentum in the Caribbean. Saint Lucia, the island closest to the south of Martinique, has launched a national consultation on the cultivation of cannabis for domestic use and export.
Currently, simple possession of cannabis in St. Lucia is punishable in part by fines of up to $20,000 to avoid a prison sentence of five to ten years.
These consultations follow a report shared last month with the country’s Cabinet of Ministers from the government-established Cannabis Commission, which is exploring “various models on the way forward” for cannabis reforms including legalization.
My colleagues have agreed that we are at a time when the approach needs to be different,” Trade Minister Bradley Felix told members of the House of Assembly on 26 June, when the country’s 2020 budget was being discussed. “We have concluded that cannabis prohibition has been ineffective in reducing consumption,” he added, citing the significant economic and operational costs associated with the ban.
The Commission’s report, entitled “An Economic Analysis of the Regulation of the Cannabis Industry in Saint Lucia”, which has not yet been released, comes just under a year after the government agreed to establish the Commission to examine the impact of the reform on the island, including on tourism and the economy.
The Prime Minister of St. Lucia, Allen Chastanet, has stressed the need to provide opportunities for the country’s citizens, ensuring both domestic and export culture.
Are we going to allow foreign investors to come where our farmers are going to be used as workers, or are we going to participate in the production of the product ourselves,” he asked.
Concerning cannabis,” Chastanet said, the government is seeking to focus on pharmaceuticals or value-added products rather than simply producing inputs. These products, he explained, will provide a “greater economic opportunity” for the island.