BVI News

Govt’s medical marijuana initiative all ‘hype with no substance’ — Opposition

Members of the Opposition have said they believe the government has done a poor job of providing the public with critical information for their proposed medicinal marijuana initiative.

Opposition Leader Marlon Penn also pointed out that despite all the proverbial ‘hype’, the requisite legislation is not yet in place to decriminalise the drug in the British Virgin Islands.

“There is really a lot of hype with no substance behind the whole plan and the whole issue of medical marijuana in general,” Penn told members of the media during a press conference on Thursday.

He continued: “Marijuana is illegal in the BVI, and we are yet to see any legislation or hear any discussion or any draft to talk about the decriminalisation of marijuana.”

The Opposition Leader was also concerned about the banking aspect of the industry.

“We are out there talking about a 100 farmers … and the basic foundation of what needs to happen has not happened as yet. The biggest challenge with this industry is the banking of funds. You are asking our banks, which they will not do to bank funds. If they do bank these funds for medical marijuana, they have a risk of losing their licenses with correspondent banking. There is no plan, just a lot of smoking mirrors, a lot of sensationalisation for our young people who want these things, who want to hear of these things and there is no substance on how they are going to benefit from these things,” Penn further said.

People need answers

Third District Representative Julian Fraser said he had been approached by members of the public on how they can be part of the initiative. However, Fraser said he is also seeking answers.

“I too would like to know about this medical marijuana, but I can tell you something right now, it is popular. It is something that is catchy right now, and there has been talk about it before this government came in, and I was surprised by the vigour in which they took it on. But, like everything else, the programmes that the government has, the background and the details don’t filter down to the Opposition, and I am not saying that they are hiding it from us,” Fraser said.

When asked if he would support the initiative, Fraser replied: “It is impossible to support something that you don’t know about. I need to know more about it so I can see exactly what it is so I can make an intelligent decision on whether or not I would support it.”

Also adding his voice to the matter, Second District Representative Melvin ‘Mitch’ Turnbull said he shared those sentiments.

What Government has said

Notably, Premier Andrew Fahie, who appears to be leading the charge on the new initiative said approximately 100 locals would each receive a half-acre plot of land from Government for the cultivation and production of their medicinal marijuana initiative in Paraquita Bay, Tortola.

He said his administration is hoping to have the programme started in May.

The Premier further said the undertaking will also facilitate additional career opportunities available for BVIslanders in the areas of product development, processing, and marketing and research which, are all being explored.

As for legislation, Agriculture Minister Dr Natalio Wheatley said plans are underway to relax the marijuana laws in the territory.

“Even before this current administration led by Premier Andrew Fahie, there was a discussion about cannabis. Perhaps it was a little quieter discussion but … there is actually a draft bill on the legalisation of marijuana that I am currently reviewing. It was done by the last administration,” the minister said at second annual Hemp Fest last year.

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23 Comments

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  1. Thanks says:

    Thanks to Hon Wheatley for reminding/letting us know that the last Government had a draft bill on this topic. Interestingly Hon Penn mentioned nothing about this. What was his previous Government’s position and what led to that draft bill. What was his position then. Give the info so we can compare and discuss fairly. Stop the flaring up without substance.

    Like 10
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    • @Thanks says:

      Dont be an ass! Hon. Penn never said he is against it, he is saying pass the necessary bill, put things in place THEN you can talk about giving people land. The Premier said he wants the land given out by May to plant marijuana but as of today its illegal and there is also no real plan explained for what is supposed to haplen to all the marijuana thats being grown. The NDP handled it the right way by going through the motions not making stupid promises. Just like the golf cart tour around town, this initiative in its current form is going to come up empty and wont be going anywhere fast!

      Like 28
      Dislike 1
  2. My take says:

    This newly elected government are a bunch of amateurs. Soo many brilliant minds in this place and they can’t recognize who should be tapped to organize this initiative in the correct way.

    Minds like Bertrum Lett$ome and others, who understand this industry, should be tapped and presented with the task of spearheading this initiative in a more thought-out and productive manner. If this initiative is not done right from its inception, all that we will be looking at- is yet another failed opportunity by this amateur government.

    Like 24
    Dislike 4
  3. lol says:

    Is this the real reason why the short lady with the bag crossed the floor??? To obtain marijuana licenses for 10 of her followers???

    Like 7
    Dislike 2
  4. the watcher says:

    “”There is no plan, just a lot of smoking mirrors, a lot of sensationalisation for our young people who want these things””

    Even de mirrors lighting up….!

    Like 4
    Dislike 2
  5. Diaspora says:

    Many locales from advanced to developing to emerging countries see producing medical marijuana as a panacea for their budget woes; competition is fierce. The VIP jump on the bandwagon, got in the race, on producing medical marijuana. It anxiously and excitedly jump into race without effective preparatory work. Faced with the medical marijuana opportunity, it should have developed/conducted a comprehensive evaluation, debate the pros and cons and then decide. But it rushed into the decision, like it seems to do with most other issues.

    Producing medical marijuana (CBD) is much more than allocating 1/2 acre plots and planting marijuana; growing medical marijuana is not planting potatoes or pumpkins. Medical marijuna is a control substance and it will be strictly controlled from planting to harvesting to storing to selling to dispensing.

    Moreover, the chemical content of medical marijuana (CBD) is important and critical in treating ailments. The desired content is not attained by just planting some plot plants and voila there it is. Marijuana is a blend of many chemicals; there are different medical marijuana strains. Chemicals balances can vary widely from plant to plant. For example, what two farmers grow can have different effect on the same person. Boosting the chemical content of medical marijuana requires effective crossbreeding. It requires facilities (testing labs) and a host of personnel, ie, botanists, geneticists………etc.

    Further, who is the VI going to sell the marijuana to and in what form? Are there agreements without other countries to export medical marijuana, ie, US, UK, Canada, China, Central and South America…….etc. Here is a news flash. Though marijuana is being grown in the US, for the most part, it is illegal at the federal level, in spite of it being legal at the state and local levels. The only approval thus far by the FDA is for people suffering with epileptic seizures. Hon Premier call a standdown and let’s dot the I’s and cross the T’s. Let’s do this right; anything else is just chasing another shiny object. You are better, we are better than chasing shiny objects.

    Like 22
    Dislike 1
    • Here is a news flash. says:

      People need to stop getting arrested for a plant.

      As quick as possible! Kudos to the government for having the back bone to take this on and give it the high priority it deserves. For the good of the people.

      This thing has been illegal for less than 100 years. And known as a medicine for thousands of years.

      CBD is not the only medical compound in it either. And that black and white argument needs to be put to rest.

      Cannabis has 100+ cannabinoids. And we will come to see more of them being brought into the spotlight by breeders in the coming years, as THC did and now CBD.

      The old school med card holders in the US were using bud with high THC to full effect.

      People need to understand it is one plant. One species.

      A very versatile plant that needs to be allowed to be explored in its entirety.

  6. @Diaspora says:

    Always a pleasure, nothing to add here! Thanks for the breath of fresh air and common sense! Sometimes I think we are a nation of proud jackasses walking around on 3 legs.

    • Diaspora says:

      @@Diaspora, thanks for the shout out. Just trying to keep it real, contributing to the discussion/debate. Cannabis (marijuana, hemp) is a versatile plant that has been cultivated for over 6,000 years, ie, seeds eaten, cooking oil, rope, cloth, paper, medicine …….etc. It comprise over 480 compounds; the two most popular compounds are THC[ (Tetrahydrocannabinol), recreational marijuana] and CBD [(Cannabidiol), medical marijuana]. Though it has been around for over 6,000 years and is showing medicinal benefits, there is still much to learn about it. Marijuana is illegal in almost all countries and is the most popular illicit drug.

      Medical marijuana is showing promise and many locales are trying to grab a piece of the pie. The BVI too is trying to grab a piece of the pie. However, getting in the game is a process; the process is not going to come to fruition by just waving a magic wand. It is going to take strategic planning, organizing, researching, discussing with stake holders, HOA debating, residents input, constructing facilities, recruiting staffing ………etc. There is no shortcuts to getting in line for the medical marijuana parade. True, government wants to be in the forefront of cashing in on the medical marijuana business but it must do so in the right way.

      Like 11
  7. Kawasaki says:

    I’ve watch videos and researches on medical marijuana planting etc like in them bigger states I really love the hydroponic planting etc Big up to California I really don’t think BVI can handle this on a large scale planting in open field yes we may train farmers etc but as soon as the process starts up jealousy and greed is gonna step in people’s mindset gonna change and it’s gonna create allot of problem we already have allot of troubled youths in society who just don’t care my questions are will there be extra security forces around these farms are they gonna be fenced properly if this is successful would the bvi start shipping it out for sale do we have a real proper lab and technicians real chemist to deal with all these herbs I really believe the hype is there but it’s allot more to it as the opposition is trying to open our eyes

    • LOL says:

      and who will buy it from us? USVI plant their own. Will we have a product superiour to all the others on the market?

      • Ganja Plane says:

        Exactly. Who is going to buy the medicine? Does the govt have orders standing by. Are the 100 farmers going to line the streets selling the stuff? Will we need a prescription to purchase it? Can we sell it to cruise ship passengers?

    • BIG QUESTION says:

      Where will they get the resources and funding?

  8. in thevaley of the sun says:

    give t thanks for this unitive. how ever I think we are five years late to the dance .with that said I do not see how we can escape this phenomenon some thing as monuments as this cannot be ignore . my onion. the (gov) of the day is trying to gauge public option you may say clever I said not clever we need dialogue and we need it now the demographics will shows a majority of the population is open for the (herb) in reality we have a younger and more vibrant society that is emerging in our virgin shores more so than ever before that cannot be ignore how ever the older folks need dialogue the (pm). has failed on all levels on this initiate..starting rite now we need town hall meetings ;liaison with some of the front line people who have been on the front line for ever .create a task force for ninety days to cover every district with a report to share with the people with the facts on the ground ..and we need bold reforms coming from the (PM).. without mention ing them we know what we would like hear & see ..also all the people with a criminal record in conjunction with these bold initiative should be giving a chance before a review board or the (pm) should exonerate all the people once he deem is the right thing to do moving forward…where is the (minister S.) I hope is not missing in action we need a young vibrant front line soldier to lead the charge ..rise up he mighty people…to be continued (in the valley of the sun)…

  9. Honors says:

    Govt it’s as simple Legalize the weed let de real hills farmers come to you with what they have even if u wanna put stipulation on it like a famer can only bring 500 lbs a herb for a month then something like that but pls do not take on that role all by yourself because u see money in the ganja farm revenue in other countries remember we all gotta eat and de small struggling man have to eat also

  10. Hqp says:

    What about the topic of children been born here on the island and not receiving any status/passport etc.

    • Anonymous says:

      That has nothing to do with this topic, and for the 1 millionth time, it’s the UK that issues passports/grants citizenship, not the BVI. Take it up with them.

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