St. Vincent & the Grenadines have high hopes for their medical marijuana industry, could you be one of the local or international players in this new cannabis market?
When one thinks of cannabis in the Caribbean, Jamaica is likely to be the first island that comes to mind. But other islands countries are actively unveiling cannabis-friendly legislation. The Caribbean nation of St. Vincent & the Grenadines (SVG) began decriminalizing marijuana in 2018 and has legalized medical marijuana use and manufacturing. In 2019, both international and local businesses were granted cannabis cultivation licenses for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Matt Lamers of Marijuana Business Daily reports:
Ten companies with board members from Canada, the Caribbean, Europe and Africa were among those who won the first new licensees. The remaining 24 went to local individual farmers or farming cooperatives with an aggregate membership of over 100 cultivators, according to a statement from the Medicinal Cannabis Authority (MCA). The MCA expects to approve 200 more cultivation licenses by Sept. 1 .
So what does it take to get a cannabis license in St. Vincent and the Grenadines?
Cannabis Legalization in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
In SVG, medical marijuana can be obtained if it is prescribed by a doctor for a qualifying condition. Cannabis is dispensed by pharmacies and pharmacists that have the authorization, or by an authorized caregiver. Individual prescriptions can’t exceed a 30-day supply.
Qualifying Conditions for Medical Marijuana in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- Pain associated with cancer
- Severe and treatment-resistant nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy
- HIV/AIDS or Hepatitis B positive status
- Parkinson’s disease patients
- Multiple sclerosis (MS) patients
- Patients with severe intractable epilepsy or Dravet’s Syndrome
- Patients with damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity
- PTSD, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, and autism patients
- Rheumatoid arthritis or any similar chronic autoimmune inflammatory disorder with severe or debilitating conditions
- Chronic pain conditions
- Other conditions such as glaucoma, sickle cell anemia, Alzheimer’s disease, and Crohn’s disease
Rules for cannabis use prohibit the consumption of medical marijuana in public spaces, when driving a vehicle, and in private residences that are licensed daycare facilities.
Drug Scheduling in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines does not have a national anti-drug program that is fully established and funded but does have some legislation for drug control. As of 2020, SVG has implemented the Cannabis Cultivation Amnesty Act that allows illegal marijuana growers to turn in black market crops. The law does not condemn these growers, helping them instead transition to legal cultivation for medicinal purposes.
SVG has also decriminalized the possession of up to 56 grams of marijuana – it will not result in a criminal record. Smoking marijuana in private has also been decriminalized, but public recreational use of marijuana remains a crime. Cannabis use for religious purposes is also decriminalized in SVG.
Medical Marijuana in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Cannabis cultivation license fees in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines range from $2.67 million Eastern Caribbean dollars (roughly $1 million) for a Class E permit to EC$100,000 for Class A, making SVG licensing affordable. The islands are a very attractive cultivation location due to their rich volcanic soil, tropical weather (plentiful sunshine and rainfall), which makes year-round cultivation possible.
The ideal climate for cannabis cultivation, however, does not allow familiar foreign varieties to perform well there. There are more threats of mold and pests than in North America or Europe, making it difficult for foreign strains to acclimatize to the environment. Local varieties are not fully feminized, so work needs to be done to establish varieties that are feminized and can tolerate pests and pathogens that are native to the island.
The light exposure of the Caribbean sun and different island altitudes are other factors that foreign strains will struggle to withstand. This means that there is currently a great demand for breeders to develop medical marijuana strains that can thrive in Saint Vincent’s climate.
Medical Marijuana Regulation in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
The governing law for medical marijuana in SVG is called “Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Medicinal Cannabis Industry Act 2018.” These regulations lay out the laws for medical cannabis cultivation and establish licensing procedures for all related activities. The different licenses available are:
- Cultivation license for medical cannabis (standard)
- Traditional cultivation license for sole citizens to grow cannabis under certain conditions
- Transport license for medical cannabis
- Manufacturing license for medical cannabis
- Cannabis dispensing and sales licenses
- Cannabis import and export licenses
- Research license for medical marijuana
How to Get a Medical Marijuana License in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
The process for obtaining medical marijuana licenses in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is well established. In addition to the licensing paperwork, applicants need to pass background checks and pay the associated licensing fees. Prior to being granted a license, the premises need to be inspected. In doing so, the process is similar to that of Canada, which requires a fully built site in order to obtain a cultivation license.
There are five different cultivation license classes- A, B, C, D, and E, and the same application form is used for cultivation licenses, and other related licenses such as transport licenses, dispensing, and manufacturing. In addition to information about ownership and finances, manufacturing license applicants need to submit the following:
- A detailed diagram of the premises
- A description of compliant inventory control procedures
- A description of compliant quality control procedures
- A description of the transportation process
- A description of compliant security procedures
- A description of the compliant waste disposal procedures
- A written statement signed by the owner of the premises, identifying the physical location of the property and acknowledging and consenting to the manufacturing of medicinal cannabis on the premises
The different cultivation licenses are classified by the acreage that is in the boundaries that are “secured in compliance with guidelines issued by the Authority” and satisfy the regulations of the Medicinal Cannabis Industry Act.
- Class A- up to 1 acre
- Class B- 1 to 5 acres
- Class C- 5 to 25 acres
- Class D- 25 to 100 acres
- Class E- 100 to 300 acres
Overall, the license application is very straightforward. But those who require a manufacturing license will need to establish a security plan and quality management system. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines cannabis regulations make a subtle mention of quality standards that has big implications.
All cannabis that is supplied in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines under this Act shall meet such standards for specified markets including, but not limited to, GMP, GPP, Fair trade, Global GAP, Eurep GAP, USDA or FDA, GAP, Organic and such other standards as may be specified by the Authority from time to time.Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Medicinal Cannabis Industry Act 2018
This means that where applicable, further regulations must be met. A cultivator is thus expected to operate in accordance with GAP (Good Agricultural Practices). For manufacturers, agencies will expect GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) requirements to be met. And if you want to sell organic cannabis, you will need to meet organic certifications.
Recordkeeping For Medical Marijuana in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Recordkeeping is one of the most important tasks for a cannabis business. Your records are very important because they are one of the defining documents that proves you are growing cannabis legally.
What Does Your Seed-to-Sale Software Need to Track?
If you are growing marijuana in SVG, you will be required to track your cultivation, sales, distribution, and testing information. The specific information your seed-to-sale software will need to track is much like the information required by Health Canada.
- Batch numbers
- Quantity of plants planted and harvested
- Plant identification records
- Records of cultivation activities
- Plant destruction and disposal
- Records of how/where/when/types plants and seeds are obtained
- Security records
- Sanitation records
- Quality control procedures, inspections, and measures
- Testing records
- Sales and transport records
The Medicinal Cannabis Industry Act requires cultivation license applicants to submit “…a proposal for the implementation of a system to monitor, track and trace all cannabis cultivated on the proposed premises…” This means that seed-to-sale software is a vital tool for meeting license requirements.
Cannabis in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: Looking Forward
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are very excited to promote their medicinal cannabis program and are welcome to both local and international cannabis ventures. With standards that are much akin to those of Canada, it is a familiar regulatory process.
While SVG’s Medical Cannabis Industry Act is comprehensive and easy to digest, you will want to find out from local regulators how they implement additional requirements like GMP and GAP which could require more compliance measures, and more complex quality assurance practices like process validations and test method suitability studies.
Find Out More
GrowerIQ’s seed-to-sale software is a critical system to help you comply with medical marijuana cultivation in SVG. Our experts can help you create a successful international cannabis venture and strive within any legal framework. To learn more, get in touch with our Cannabis professionals by completing the form below.
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