As the global cannabis market expands, more and more Caribbean nations are hopping on board and getting involved in the industry in a bid to boost their economies.
According to a recent article in The Economist, several of tropical nations are beginning to cultivate cannabis for export.
The cannabis sector will benefit from this since it will assist in legitimatizing it and will increase awareness - which is good news.
The decriminalization of marijuana is progressing throughout the region, and other islands are about to formally welcome the laid-back environment and perfect beach weather that some visitors have long enjoyed cannabis use in.
Now let’s examine some of these nations in more detail and go through their motivations for entering the cannabis sector.
Places where cannabis use is legalized/decriminalized in the Caribbean
1- Antigua and Barbuda
The lower house of parliament approved the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill in Antigua and Barbuda in February 2019. This bill makes it legal to possess up to 10 grams of cannabis without incurring a criminal charge.
The cultivation of cannabis for medicinal, scientific, or therapeutic purposes has been lawful in Jamaica since 2015 thanks to the country's decision to establish a medical marijuana industry and establish a licensing system supervised by the “Cannabis Licensing Authority.”
3- Cayman Islands
In 2016, the governor of Cayman Island, Helen Kilpatrick, approved a bill that would modify the Misuse of Drugs Bill and make it possible for cannabis oil to be sold and imported for medical purposes.
By taking this action, the government legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes in the context of tinctures or oils to treat a variety of illnesses, including epilepsy, cancer, and joint pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, amongst others.
The use of cannabis and possession of small amounts were made ‘less illegal’ by an amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Act passed in 2016.
People are permitted to have a maximum of 10 grams of cannabis in their possession and are allowed to smoke it privately on their federal property or the private property of another individual as long as they receive permission from the property owner.
5- St Kitts and Nevis
In 2016, Timothy Harris, the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, initiated the creation of a National Marijuana Commission to investigate the numerous repercussions that would result from the decriminalization of the plant.
6- The Bahamas
Although cannabis has not yet been permitted for recreational use in the Bahamas, regulation is now being drafted to make an exception for medical use. However, the population is cautiously favorable to the legislation, which supports its passage.
7- Trinidad & Tobago
In Trinidad and Tobago, possession of cannabis in small quantities was no longer a crime as of December 2019.
In the meanwhile, the House of Representatives of this country has voted to approve the Cannabis Regulation Bill, which includes provisions for the use of cannabis for medical and religious purposes.
However, it’s yet to come into full effect.
It’s currently against the law in Haiti to engage in the cultivation, sale, or consumption of cannabis in any way, and there is very little information regarding when or if these rules might change.
9- St Vincent and the Grenadines
The possession of up to two ounces of cannabis was decriminalized in St Vincent and the Grenadines in 2018.
Instead of facing possible incarceration, those caught in possession of two ounces or less of the plant will possibly be fined instead.
In January 2022, the country exported its first shipment of medical marijuana to Germany - 110 pounds of Vincy.
Medical cannabis was legalized, while possession of up to 14 grams of cannabis was decriminalized, in November 2019 on the island of Barbados.
Meanwhile, registered Rastafarians are also allowed to use cannabis spiritually under the Sacramental Cannabis Bill.
The Barbados Medicinal Cannabis Act, 2019 established a licensing regime under the Barbados Medicinal Cannabis Licencing Authority.
Under the regulations, license holders can cultivate, process, sell, transport, export, as well as develop research and develop medicinal cannabis and cannabis products.
The cannabis business in The Caribbean islands
The medical cannabis market is not to be sneered at, with a projected global value of $150 billion.
With the "Jamaica Cannabis Licensing Authority" anticipating trade amongst medical licensees at over $100 million in 2019, Jamaica has emerged as a leader in the Caribbean's medical legalization movement.
The medical marijuana industry benefits not only growers, packers, transporters, distributors, and retailers, but also a vast array of ancillary jobs and industries, including specialized travel and lodging businesses that would be permitted to offer marijuana-friendly vacations, tours, and experiences.
This would bring in anticipated billions in tax revenue for the Caribbean, which could then be used to build and enhance infrastructure, including roads, hospitals, schools, and water networks.
What lies ahead for the cannabis industry in the Caribbean
The climate of the Caribbean islands, with a few notable exceptions, makes for an ideal setting for the cultivation of cannabis.
And because it is near the equator, this implies that the country experiences high temperatures, high levels of humidity, and an abundance of sunlight.
There is still a significant amount of untapped potential for cannabis cultivation throughout the Caribbean, even though several islands potentially have soil problems that may impede growth.
Despite the region's low labor and living costs, it can pay good wages in the Caribbean. The region's ideal growing environment makes it possible to reduce overall production costs.
As time goes on and cannabis becomes more widely accepted as a commodity, the production of cannabis-related goods like extracts, isolates, hemp, and so on is likely to shift to the Caribbean.
These goods will then be shipped worldwide from that location, providing additional income and stability to the Caribbean region.
The Caribbean is at the leading edge of transformation, and its governments are currently re-evaluating their rules and legal regimes intending to bring them in line with those of their counterparts in North and South America.
The numbers don't lie: the market for medical marijuana is booming, which is creating new opportunities for cultivators, retailers, and investors looking to capitalize on newly eased legislation and high customer demand.
So, if you also intend to enjoy psychedelic retreats, the Caribbean is your go-to place.
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