The leading politicians in Barbados have declared that it is time for the Caribbean nation to cash in on the medical cannabis industry.

The amended Medical Cannabis Industry Bill has just passed out of a joint select committee after receiving a ringing endorsement from Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley. She gave an impassioned speech to the House as she urged lawmakers to back the bill and pave the way for a medical cannabis trade in Barbados.

“We need also to recognise that the value chain which was robbed of us from modern settlement with respect to tobacco and then with sugar cannot be robbed from us again,” said Mottley, who is the country’s first female leader.

Barbados Attorney General Dale Marshall, the country’s deputy leader, introduced the bill in August. He admitted it faced difficulty in gaining support from critics that claim it could lead to recreational cannabis legalization, which might prove problematic for the country’s diplomatic relations with the USA, where marijuana remains illegal at a federal level.

Yet Mottley pointed out that legalizing medical cannabis would be crucial for Barbados as it seeks to maintain a strong trade relationship with Canada. She feels that Canadian companies will use Barbados as a domicile, while Barbadians are keen to go to Canada and work on cannabis farms without fear of their wages being seized as proceeds from crime.

Home Affairs Minister Edmund Hinkson added that Barbados must adapt to the changing times. He noted that Jamaica and St. Vincent & The Grenadines have already pressed ahead with medical cannabis laws, adding that it would be damaging for Barbados to be left behind.

The Medical Cannabis Industry Bill is now in final draft stage after appeasing concerns raised by the Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic.

The Barbados Pharmaceutical Society, the Barbados Pharmacy Council, the Barbados Medical Council, the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners, the church, members of the Islamic community, the African Heritage Foundation, the Council for the Disabled and the Barbados Bar Association all made presentations before the select committee passed the amended bill. It should go before lawmakers for a vote in the coming weeks.