Barbados: Eyes out for potential marijuana business

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One Canadian investor is eager to start sourcing marijuana from Barbados to export to other regions.

Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Green Stripe Naturals Wayne Isaacs told Barbados TODAY he was anticipating the passing of legislation here so he could invest significantly in helping to develop a medical cannabis industry.

“Our main goal in the cannabis industry is to produce enough cannabis from the Caribbean so we can start looking at exports across the world,” said Isaacs.

“In Barbados specifically, what we are looking at doing is potentially acquiring product from cultivators and again processing and extracting so that we can create more end-user products and also produce products for the medical market,” he said.

However, with Government yet to put legislation in place to allow for the development of the much-touted medical cannabis industry here, Isaacs said he was yet to make a formal proposal.

Notwithstanding, the entrepreneur, who was in Barbados for the first time last week to meet with officials from the University of the West Indies (UWI) and other stakeholders, told Barbados TODAY he was keen on forming critical partnerships.

“We have the ability to bring forth the technology and the equipment. I would like to have the academia and the intellectual processes surrounding what we are dong here in terms of extraction processing,” he said.

Isaacs said while he was in favour of “very sober and deliberate legislation” he believed developing a legal cannabis industry in Barbados and the rest of the region has been slowed by the legislative process.

“The legislation must keep pace with what is happening in the world market. The Caribbean could potentially run the risk of falling behind other world markets. We have seen some of the markets in South America that have come on very strong with very strong legislation that was done relatively quickly,” he pointed out.

“What I am seeing here in the Caribbean is that the legislation seems to be dragging a little bit. It could happen a little bit faster so that the Caribbean region doesn’t fall behind. The region has a lot to offer in the cannabis space – ideal lighting, ideal soil conditions, lots of multigenerational experience especially on the cultivation side. So I don’t want to see us start lagging in the industry simply because there is an over-abundance of legislative processes that just doesn’t get done fast enough,” he warned.

The Toronto-based businessman said his one year-old company has so far invested more than US$0.5 million in the cannabis industry in Jamaica, building out some 20 acres of cultivation facility there.

He also has conditional licences with various partners with a plan in place to invest significantly more in research and development, processing, transportation and dispensaries.

Following Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s announcement recently that Canadian investors were interested in participating in a cannabis industry in Barbados, there have been several concerns that locals could miss out on a lucrative opportunity.

However, Isaacs said he did not see that happening, adding that there was room for collaboration.

“We are not taking over. The beauty of what we are doing in Jamaica is that we have partnerships,” he said.

“One of the beautiful things I have instituted as the CEO is that majority or all of our staff will come from Jamaica. The only time we will bring foreign staff in Jamaica or any other islands in the Caribbean where we are located is for training of staff,” he said.

He also pointed out that any local worker on his farm would have “the ability to earn a certain percentage of an acreage” after they have been with the business for some time. “The only condition is that they can’t sell it to somebody else,” he explained.

Isaac said he was also keen on working with cannabis growers who had smaller acres across the island providing them with “financial and capital resources” including fencing, security measures, pesticides and fertilization controls.

“I believe the region itself has the best potential worldwide for growing premium cannabis. So in terms of scaling I would like to scale regionally. Barbados is definitely on our radar, [as well as] St Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, potentially Belize and other areas in the region,” he said.

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