The St. Vincent and the Grenadines parliament is scheduled to meet on Thursday (September 6) for the first reading of three pieces of legislation directed towards the possible establishment of a medical marijuana industry in the country.

Agriculture and Forestry Minister, Saboto Caesar is expected to present The Medicinal Cannabis Industry Bill, The Cannabis Cultivation (Amnesty) Bill, and The Permitted Use of Cannabis for Religious Purpose Bill, a few months after the Ralph Gonsalves administration had indicated a desire to have the relevant laws passed by March. In reference to the topic of discussion, the New Democratic Party has already voiced their thoughts stating that the government must ensure that any medical marijuana industry established in St Vincent and the Grenadines benefits the citizens.

“Whatever happens with the developments with respect to medical marijuana … or those persons here in St Vincent and the Grenadines who are engaged in providing products to the people who may make medicine and so on, whatever we do has to benefit our people,” Godwin Friday said in January, “It can’t be a situation where you’re simply inviting multinational pharmaceutical corporations to essentially come and dominate an industry that our local people here can benefit from.” His remarks come amidst reports that Canadian investors, who are building a resort here, have indicated their desire to offer medical marijuana treatment when the facility becomes operational.

Finance Minister Camillo Gonsalves outlined the government’s position on the marijuana issue when during his budget presentation he told legislators “unregulated consumption of recreational marijuana poses a number of risks and challenges that we do not currently have the data on which to make informed decisions, or the capacity to manage effectively”.

“I am in the school which says that it has medicinal properties and we can make an industry out of that. I am also in the school that says there is a sacramental issue which we have to address with freedom of religion,” Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Ralph Gonsalves stated while criticizing the opposition’s approach to the reforming of the marijuana law.

The prime minister also told the media he was awaiting a document he had requested from the ministers of health and education for a program on the abuse and misuse of marijuana and alcohol.