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‘We want to have a very responsible cannabis industry’ – Dr Wheatley

- Plans to have a Cannabis Licensing Authority in the pipeline
Dr the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley (R7), the minister responsible for Agriculture, spoke of his government’s plans for medical marijuana during a live discussion on the Cannabis Licensing Bill, 2020, on Tuesday, June 23, 2020, on Facebook. Photo: Facebook
A Licensing Authority Board for medical marijuana would comprise persons from the legal fraternity, medicine, law enforcement and business, according to Government. Photo: Internet Source
A Licensing Authority Board for medical marijuana would comprise persons from the legal fraternity, medicine, law enforcement and business, according to Government. Photo: Internet Source
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- Minister for Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture, Dr the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley (R7) said in an attempt to have a responsible cannabis industry in the Virgin Islands, a Cannabis Licensing Authority will be created to guide the sector.

Dr Wheatley spoke of his government’s plans for medical marijuana during a live discussion on the Cannabis Licensing Bill, 2020, on Tuesday, June 23, 2020, on Facebook.

“The good thing is we have been able to learn from many persons who have legalised it already, and that’s why we are putting together this Cannabis Licensing Authority that will issue guidance in terms of how this plant will be regulated. There is the potential if we don’t regulate it properly to have problems, but we want to have a very responsible cannabis industry here in the Virgin Islands that would export and that would provide some types of benefits for persons who want to do medical tourism for instance,” he stated.

He said the Licensing Authority Board would comprise persons from the legal fraternity, medicine, law enforcement and business.

Investor to help

Dr Wheatley said, there will be an investor who will assist local farmers a great deal.

He explained: “So how it will really work is we will have someone who is an investor, who is a farmer, who has the international markets that we can export to, who can come and buy directly from our farmers. The investor will show them exactly how to grow the marijuana because when you are exporting marijuana, it is very important that you abide by the international standards and regulations.”

“I know there are persons who grow marijuana in the BVI presently, but you cannot grow it any type of way if you want to be able to export it. It has to be a very specific way; the investor will be able to teach them those methods and equip them on their farms and show them everything that they have to do from start to finish. And, the investor will buy the marijuana from them, process it, which will create jobs again, in terms of the processing, and to be able to export it to places around the world. There has been a great deal of demand for marijuana internationally,” he added.

He said already 700 acres of land ‘in the hills of Paraquita Bay’ has been made available to the government; however, only 50 acres will be used for the time being.

“Then we will evaluate the market and see if there is any room for growth.”

1000 letters!

Minister Wheatley also mentioned that persons in the Territory are really interested in this sector.

“When the Premier first announced that we will have a 100 farmers, I probably got about a 1,000 letters. So many persons indicated an interest in becoming one of those farmers. We had persons from all over the territory, Anegada, Jost van Dyke, Virgin Gorda, every district and all the District Representatives got letters and inquiries,” he remarked.

“Persons are very excited about the possibility. I don’t even know how we will choose the farmers because there will be so many applications,” he said.

The bill as introduced in the House of Assembly (HoA) has been published in the Official Gazette, and members of the public can access it for their information and feedback.

21 Responses to “‘We want to have a very responsible cannabis industry’ – Dr Wheatley”

  • Utopia (24/06/2020, 08:08) Like (1) Dislike (2) Reply
    Pie in the sky
  • rasta (24/06/2020, 08:25) Like (2) Dislike (2) Reply
    Music to my ears
    • priest (24/06/2020, 18:38) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
      While I am not against any initiative that would improve the financial life our people, the effect from the COVID Pandemic has expose a weak link in many countries and that is one of Food Security. Most of us experienced during the lock down of having a few dollars to spend but were unable to find certain food items to purchase. We know the fear and anxiety that caused. The British Virgin Islands import most of the food it consumes on out side sources [countries] We saw what happens when that supply is broken and borders are closed. Sustainable Food Security should be at the top of your Agenda Mr. Minister. We should implements initiatives that would allow us to enjoys a sense of self reliance in being able to feed ourselves. Most of us are now cultivating small food farms, on porches and other areas. Again Sir Please make the issue of Food Security paramount in your Depertment.
      • E. Leonard (25/06/2020, 05:47) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
        The VI, along with the rest of then region, share some similar challenges, e.g. food insecurity, eroded trade preferences, decline in foreign assistance, lowered foreign direct investment, prone to recurrent natural disasters(hurricanes, earthquakes/volcanoes), turbulence in business cycle (tourism),susceptible to climate change......etc. The Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic exposed the VI’s food insecurity weakness. The VI has approx 20% arable land and some of the limited acreage is being converted to other uses, eg, housing.

        Though the VI may not be self-sufficient in food production, it should strategically and tactically plan to produce as much food as possible and practical to a)reduce the food import bill, b)create a multiplier effect in the economy and c)improve the food security posture. The VI must take a look at non-traditional food production methods, eg, greenhouses, aquaculture......etc. Small plots, backyard.....etc food production should be incentivized and encouraged. The Agriculture Department should be well-positioned to provide training and education, plants and seedlings, fertilizer, tools, equipment and machinery rental.........etc.
  • hello (24/06/2020, 08:28) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
    I can’t wait to get high to the roof top
  • .... (24/06/2020, 08:59) Like (12) Dislike (0) Reply
    Can’t be growing weed and still hauling people in front of the courts for weed.. do the thing right adjust the laws...then think about this
  • lower estate (24/06/2020, 09:42) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    The peoples wis over the gobvernment they choose
  • GG (24/06/2020, 10:08) Like (8) Dislike (9) Reply
    It's really interesting to see where priorities lie. Well if churches remain silent there is no telling where we will end up socially. What' next, legalizing cocaine. I am sure someone can come up with a study affirming it's medicinal benefits. Really sad chapter in BVI history.
  • Eggs in One Basket/Flagrant disregard for law (24/06/2020, 10:14) Like (8) Dislike (0) Reply
    Soooooooo, all this is hinged on one investor purchasing from the BVI?? IF things go sour with him or he decides that he will no longer use BVI for whatever reason, what next? Sounds like all our eggs are in one basket here with this "investor".


    Why is the Minister openly talking about knowing of persons who grow the plant in the territory and that it can't be grown willy-nilly. He is aware that the plant is NOT legal here Currently right? I'm very sure those people he are talking about ARE NOT growing it for personal use but are SUPPLIERS. Which is an offence. So instead of being quiet about that knowledge or reprimand those individuals,,, it's being boasted about!!

    Then you wonder why people don't comply with laws around here!
  • trust (24/06/2020, 10:27) Like (14) Dislike (0) Reply
    If so why lock people Up for cannabis like really all ayo want to do is make money for Ayo self come on man do better
  • reality (24/06/2020, 10:40) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    Decriminalize it - sure. Expect to compete in the barely-established international legal market - unlikely. Even the huge players in Canada are having financial problems now.
  • We in trouble (24/06/2020, 13:18) Like (6) Dislike (2) Reply
    Consider this. ......Do not allow people who love to smoke to disturb others....Make smoking weed in a public place illegal, I have some neighbors they smoking any where no considerstion for anyone else imaging when it becomes legal
  • Peaches (24/06/2020, 13:23) Like (11) Dislike (4) Reply
    First gambling, now marijuana! No talk about food for the hard times ahead! This government really make me regret voting for them. It's all about MONEY, MONEY AND MORE MONEY!! NO SERIOUS TALK ABOUT AGRICULTURE AND FOOD. These two priorities of the government will only bring about lawlessness, death, crime and a curse upon our country.

    Where are the churches? Why are they so silent? God has called us as Christians to spread the WORD
    to a lost and dying world, but we see the Church is failing in its duties. However, God will not let His church fall, he will rise up men and women that will be bold for him and speak out against these social ills that the government is thrusting upon us in the Corona virus pandemic.

    The earthquakes and hurricanes are brewing, we don't know what will happen next. WE NEED TO HEAR THE GOVERNMENT SPEAK ABOUT FOOD SECURITY!

    • Blind Man (24/06/2020, 17:03) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      Cant you see both the bishop and pastor advisor are for it ????????
  • Bohannon (24/06/2020, 22:06) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
    Cant have marijuana legal for some and illegal for others.
  • Puzzled (24/06/2020, 22:51) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    If it’s responsible and for medical and investment purposes, why the bill to purge prior convictions for possession etc for recreational use? The only reason is that marijuana is generally going to be made legal for all purposes. If so, has the government taken advice as to the links between recreational use of marijuana and serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and psychopathy?
    • Puzzled (25/06/2020, 07:25) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      Because its wrong to be locking people up for small amount of healing plant matter. No weed does not cause people to become psychopaths. And when you really think about it schizophrenic people have their own challenges which are not related to this substance.
  • Sad News (24/06/2020, 23:10) Like (2) Dislike (1) Reply
    Very sad news
  • Eagle and Buffalo (25/06/2020, 05:14) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Dr. Hon Natalio Wheatley (R7), minister under whom agriculture falls, needs to launch a public education and outreach programme on CBD, ie, medical marijuana or cannabis. There are approximately 500 strains of cannabis with the two most popular being THC, a psychotic and recreational drug that ges people high and CBD, a non-psychotic and non-recreational drug that shows promise for treating a myriad of ailments.

    Hear is a news flash. CBD, ie, medical marijuana, does not get you high. No one is going to be burning a CBD spliff to get high. Well, one can but he/she is not going to get high, for there is little to no THC in CBD strains of cannabis. In the pot universe, CBD is like a placebo.

    Many other regional jurisdictions, eg, Antigua, Jamaica.....etc have decriminalized possession of small quantities of marijuana for personal consumption. The VI needs to consider similar actions, along with quashing the records of those convicted of possession of small quantities of pot for personal consumption.

    The VI usually lags other regional countries in taking progressive actions, eg, it was the last or one of the last locale that lifted the immigration ban on non-local people with dread locks entering the territory. Locks were nothing to be dreaded. Kudos to the NDP for stopping the self hating.

    [Let’s us lead like eagles, not careen off the cliff like buffaloes]
  • Banana Republic (25/06/2020, 11:05) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    We don’t have a responsible government so hows that going to work. I’m sure the growers will be a chosen few ...corrupt family members.
  • Andre Fox (26/06/2020, 06:16) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    This step is not terrible if it does not happen in a corrupt country. Where complete control over the use of medical marijuana is possible. Otherwise, it will only exacerbate local corruption.

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