As the HempFest at Foxy’s Tamarind Bar approaches, it is the time of year to look once again towards a future that will have cannabis and cannabis products legalised on some level here in the Virgin Islands. As the rest of the world tries their hand at the different approaches that legalisation can take, these islands should start to think about how cannabis should fit in here.

A natural starting point is the farming community. Cannabis is a crop that can be grown with relative ease. It is a hardy plant, doesn’t need much water, and can do well in poor soil. It is highly pest resistant, and three crops per year are common because it is fast growing. With cannabis growing on the land, farmers will evolve from being persons struggling to make ends meet in a very tough environment, to business persons learning more about yield management, crop security and investment in new equipment. They will be growing a valuable crop well suited to local conditions that doesn’t spoil, while being very close to a large market willing to spend freely on cannabis.

Of course, in a legal cannabis economy these farmers will need to be licensed to grow and distribute their crop, and to help there needs to be a network of dispensaries, small stores that are licensed to sell limited qualities to qualified individuals. Each dispensary will offer a variety of different products, including the oils and tinctures that have proven medical uses, and staff that are trained to handle these products in a responsible manner. Sales would be recorded as to amount and individual, and medical products would require a prescription from a local doctor.


‘Spiritual’ uses

For spiritual purposes there would be approved sites and events where cannabis can be used as a celebration of religious faith. This is the most elevated use of cannabis and although to many persons it might seem strange, in the Rastafarian faith cannabis plays a central role in worship. It is quite literally an ingredient in prayer. It is only right that followers of this faith are allowed to worship in their own manner in their own homes and gathering places.


Examples abroad

To help the VI on these first steps towards a time when cannabis is more accepted than it is now, the world provides a growing number of examples of islands, states and nations that have legalised cannabis. The lessons are there to be learned, and the VI only need decide what steps to take first and which path to follow. There are so many success stories that we need only pick the best of the best and we can have a cannabis economy that is a bright example of fairness, growth and opportunity. There are so many people and companies willing to help these islands to bring this new aspect of a growing economy to life, but it must be remembered that the benefits, whether they be medical, spiritual, economic or recreational, must be available to all.