Potential for sustainable medical and recreational cannabis industry

Potential for sustainable medical and recreational cannabis industry
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis. Photo credit: Office of the Prime Minister)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The potential exists for the establishment of a sustainable industry for both medical and recreational marijuana, according to the Marijuana Commission Report tabled in Parliament yesterday.

The report, tabled by Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minister yesterday, suggested that regulation and taxation would divert a significant amount of funds collected by organized crime to the legal market.

It also noted ‘millions of dollars’ will be saved reducing resources needed to fund the Police Force, the Criminal Justice System and the Prison to deal with persons arrested for drug possession.

The report explained the money received from taxation of the industry will provide more resources to invest in education, health care, roads and other infrastructure, and social programmes.

It furthered that a licensed and regulated industry will “ will create a variety of jobs that will create new opportunities for persons to be employed.”

The report pointed out that globally, wages in the cannabis industry are among the highest in the world.

“With current changes on the horizon – the potential rescheduling of cannabis in America and the recommendations of the WHO – options appear to be most favourable for the development of a successful cannabis industry in The Bahamas,” the report read.

“This report does not address this, but greater focus is needed to gauge the various impacts a cannabis industry will have on the Bahamian economy. There is a need to consider the possibilities for establishing markets for both type plants involved – those for medical and recreational use, and those designed for the hemp industry.

“The potential exists for a sustainable industry for each one,” the report stated.

The report also underscored the need for Bahamian ownership.

“The creation of a cannabis industry, for medicinal and/or recreational purposes, must provide opportunities for all Bahamians to get involved, and at all levels, including ownership of the major components of the system,” it continued.

“The cost of operating a cannabis business is expensive. It is appreciated therefore that the average Bahamian may not have the resources to fully participate in the industry. It is imperative that safeguards are put in place that will encourage Bahamians to partner with foreign investors at a ratio that is mutually beneficial.

“It is proposed that any company formed must be at least 51% Bahamian owned, with no more than 49 per cent of the shares being owned by non-Bahamians,” the report stated.

With a significant portion of the economic benefits to the country to be derived from taxing the industry, at several levels, the report stressed that the amount of taxes should not so great as to discourage persons from investing.

“Over taxation of the legal market would ensure a robust and healthy black market,” the report read.

The report further noted that the plant used for industrial hemp is traditionally high in cannabidiol more commonly known as CBD.

“There are many uses for hemp-based products in the general population, from hempcrete to clothing and hardware such as ropes and other building materials,” it added.

“However, looking at the global trends, it is not expected that there will be an explosion of products into the industrial hemp market.

“This is because the prohibition on industrial hemp has been lifted for the majority of the world. Hemp clothing is available, but not in large amounts. The same applies for other hardware hemp that can be and is being produced.”

The report read: “What is seen is an explosion in the health and recreational uses of hemp-derived CBD and products. Products range from every aspect of the consumer experience: smokable products, as well as edible, topical and pet wellness products.

“The absence of explosion of the hemp industry compared to the production of cannabis products for human consumption may be attributed to the initial start-up costs for production of the hemp products, coupled with a low market demand.

“This therefore does not make production a priority for businesses operating in this space. On the other hand, the costs to set up operations designed to cultivate and extract for human consumption are much more cost effective with a much higher return on investment.”