The fact that the House of Assembly passed 15 bills in June does not necessarily mean that much is going to happen in a hurry — unless someone at Gorda Peak was jumping the gun on growing weed or the rumours are true of already imported slot machines. The bills have to be approved by the governor, and then a lot has to be done before we see anything tangible happening.

 

Medical marijuana

I am still trying to get my head around this medical marijuana legalisation — and no, I have not been smoking it. Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture Minister Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley seems completely absorbed with this subject, possibly to the detriment of his other portfolios. The law legalises the setting up of a medical marijuana industry, not the free growing of plants for smoking.

Incidentally, I read that smoking the weed destroys nearly all the medically beneficial ingredients. On the one hand, we are told that it will be manufactured for export, to somehow benefit the treasury. I would bet that it is not going to produce the suggested $30 million a year after growers, refiners, exporters, middlemen, retailers, doctors and the “investor” have had their cut. Is the plant exported or is it treated first in a yet-to-be-built laboratory? It may be hard finding markets as there are much bigger players ahead of us.

 

Medical questions

Mention is also made of local consumption for medicinal purposes. Are there that many people here who would benefit from it — and I don’t mean the smokers? Surely it has to be prescribed by a doctor? Are we going to train our doctors in the use of the drug? Will National Health Insurance be involved and cover the cost? How will it be administered? By mouth (pill or liquid) or by injection?

Then again, mention is made of medical tourism, which presumably means foreigners coming here to be treated under doctors’ orders, and not to smoke it. People may get confused and come for the wrong reason.

 

‘Mysterious investor’

I’m sure our local potheads did not envisage this turn of events when they heard about legalisation of marijuana, and they must be fuming (pun!).

Who are these 100 Virgin Islanders who are to be selected to participate? Are they already farmers? Or will they be favoured names, handing down the actual farming to others?

Was a study done on whether half an acre is sufficient to make a living? Was a study done of possible markets? Was a study done of set-up costs?

You can bet any outside investor is not going to put as much money in as they expect government to. When is the first crop due? Does it continue throughout the year, or are there seasons? Who is the mysterious “investor”?

I know I am a cynic, but if we are not particularly vigilant I can see another BVI Airways, Beef Island bridge, hospital, greenhouses, pier park, incinerator, administration building, college auditorium and so on fleecing our treasury and benefiting just a few. You know, the start of all this was that little “bridge” — aka a culvert — by ZBVI, which I think cost $300,000.

 

Independence?

I hope the members of the HOA have made a note in their diaries for Aug. 1, 2027 so they can curry favour with the self-appointed saviour of us all, Claude Skelton-Cline, who recently said on his talk show that the Virgin Islands should go independent by that date. Sadly, few of them will be in office by then.

I wonder if he will still be on the consultancy books?

Lastly, I don’t think there is any record of Sir Francis Drake actually landing here for any length of time, so he can’t be accused of ill-treating our ancestors here. There probably wasn’t any population at the time he came through. Does Mr. Skelton-Cline want Drakes Traders to change their name as well? Most of the surnames here can be found on the 1798 map of Tortola listing the estate owners. It is understood that after emancipation most freed slaves took the name of their former owners. So that’s quite an exercise changing all those names, and to what? Will we find ourselves “Africa in the Caribbean”?


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