PLANO, Texas — By 2028, it is projected that the global marketplace for medicinal marijuana will increase to $49,116 million from $8,926 million in 2020. Additionally, the Global Medical Cannabis Market Forecast to 2028 anticipates a 23.9% increase in compound annual growth rate during this time as well. As the international market for medicinal marijuana products expands, island nations like Antigua and Barbuda are turning to marijuana cultivation to diversify its economy. Legalizing marijuana farming in Antigua and Barbuda could revive the nation’s economy from the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some of the expected benefits of marijuana farming in Antigua and Barbuda.
The Decriminalization of Marijuana in Antigua and Barbuda
The economic benefits of the marijuana industry prompted Antigua and Barbuda to adopt decriminalization legislation. The Cannabis Act, passed on Nov. 28, 2018, regulates the possession, manufacturing and sale of medicinal marijuana. The act permits individuals to possess up to 15 grams of marijuana. Citizens may also own up to four marijuana plants. Furthermore, licensed dealers may distribute marijuana to patients for medical reasons. Despite the recreational use of marijuana being legal, there are still restrictions. For example, the law does not permit marijuana smoking in public areas.
The adoption of the Cannabis Act tasked the Medicinal Cannabis Authority (MCA) with overseeing all operations regarding medicinal cannabis. The MCA has three primary responsibilities. The first responsibility is to issue cultivation permits. It also monitors plant extraction and processing. Lastly, the MCA supervises the distribution and sale of medical marijuana.
GROW Antigua and Barbuda
GROW Antigua and Barbuda is the first company to receive a medicinal marijuana license. The company is a collaboration between the Antigua and Barbuda government, the Rastafarian community and the private sector. The objective of GROW Antigua and Barbuda is to integrate outcomes for public health while simultaneously encouraging quality and innovation through partnerships with commercial companies. It will accomplish this goal by focusing on three main areas: medicine, community and consumers.
The MCA is reviewing at least five more marijuana license applications totaling more than $11.1 million. According to MCA Chairman Daven Joseph, more than 200 people will work in these five companies.
Marijuana Farming Enhances Economic Prosperity
The 2009 global economic recession drastically impacted Antigua and Barbuda’s economy, and it has yet to recover. Additionally, the pandemic has worsened the economy’s already precarious state. According to a World Food Program survey, four out of five respondents lost their jobs or had their household earnings slashed. However, Joseph expects the marijuana industry to add at least 10% to economic development in five to ten years. To spur economic growth, the government of Antigua and Barbuda plans to have “local content and ownership in every” marijuana-related business.
Between 2009 and 2011, the tourism industry in Antigua and Barbuda suffered a significant downturn. In addition, the tourism industry, which employs around 90% of the country’s workforce, recently took another massive hit due to restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, marijuana farming in Antigua and Barbuda is a viable prospect to regenerate the country’s tourism.
Kelly Fontenelle, founder of the Travel Advisors Selling the Caribbean (TASC) group, believes marijuana tourism offers various new possibilities and experiences to distinguish the tourism sector. For example, renowned boxer Mike Tyson’s cannabis business, Tyson Ranch, has identified Antigua and Barbuda as a potential marijuana tourist destination. Prime Minister Browne discussed ideas for expanding the Tyson Ranch brand into a full-service hotel and resort. A Tyson Ranch Casino is also a possibility, which might incorporate a cannabis shop and consumption lounges. This could be a highly profitable business for Antigua and Barbuda.
Marijuana Legalization Uplifts the Rastafarian Community
Marijuana is regarded as a sacred herb in the Rastafarian culture. It is utilized to instill a sense of togetherness and evoke holy and soothing thoughts. Historically, the religious group has voiced frustrations and dissatisfaction with the government over the marijuana prohibition in Antigua and Barbuda. However, with the legalization of marijuana, the relationship between Rastafarians and the government appears to be improving.
The legislation legalizing marijuana for any purpose also acknowledges the government’s obligation to protect the religious rights of Hindu and Rastafarian believers. These individuals are eligible to apply for a religious license. A licensing fee of $120,256.79 is required to operate a medicinal marijuana business in Antigua and Barbuda. Marijuana cultivated by authorized Rastafarian groups will be exempt from the fees. Additionally, Browne insisted that the first cannabis license awarded in Antigua and Barbuda must include members of the Rastafarian community as a gesture of goodwill.
Embracing Marijuana Farming
The global acceptance of marijuana is spreading. According to the Jamaica Observer, Browne stated, “given that global medicinal marijuana sector is valued in excess of $11.1 million, it was necessary for [Antigua and Barbuda] to be ahead of the curve.”
– Tiara Tyson