CommentaryLettersOpinionsReader Bites

Making way for the Caribbean Cannabis Economy

by: - June 1, 2017
3118 Views   3 comments

Waitikubuli Multipurpose Cooperative (right to left Dr. Andre Haughton UWI, Ras Tyron Allyene RIWMCOP, Ras Kemai RIWMCOP Secretary and Dr. Machel Emanuel UWI).

By: Dr. Machel A. Emanuel PhD. (Tropical Horticulture) department of Life Sciences, University of the West Indies, Mona Campus and
Dr. Andre Haughton PhD. (International Finance and Economics) department of Economics, University of the West Indies, Mona Campus

What is a Marijuana index?
The Global Cannabis Industry (GCI) values more than $150 billion US currently. Cannabis sales in North America alone were more than $7 billion US dollars in 2016. Currently Bloomberg is putting plans in place to establish a Global Marijuana Index (GMI) that will incorporate all the major trading cannabis stocks around the world. They have already started with which lists all the major marijuana stocks on a combined North American Index and then separately for America and Canada. The same is expected for Europe with Spain, Holland and Germany leading the way. They are seeking to establish different clusters of indices around the world to list the marijuana firms. Since 2017, firms listed on these indices have attracted significant capital due to their high long-term value proposition. Currently, the major pharmaceutical companies in the United Stated have established research facilities in Israel with the intention to gradually transition from the administration of synthetic medication to products derived from cannabis plants, which they would believe is more natural and effective in the long run. Israel has only 10 lincensed grow facilities but have managed to register more than 500 patents for cannabis derived products with theraputic and medical potentinals. It is this intellectual property that is most valuable in the global business of cannabis.

Why is this relevant to Dominica?
Dominica’s natural topography, mountainous terrains with hot springs, rivers and adventurous trails provide the perfect atmosphere to complement the administration of therapeutic, nutraceutical and medical cannabis. The economy has experienced a sluggish GDP growth rate; 1.5% (2016 est.) and -1.8% (2015 est.), national savings of roughly 4.7% of GDP on average per annum is barely sufficient to offset annual infrastructural depreciation and not enough to inject new investments to assist the country grow and gradually develop. The current unemployment rate is over 22 percent. Banana production in Dominica was once seen as the green gold producing up to 30,000 tons of banana annually in the 1980s to 1990s. The agriculture sector accounts for 40% of the countries labour force, the average farmer is over the age of 50 years old while the average cannabis farmer is in his 20s. Therefore, the cooperative structure that existed could be remodeled and integrated towards cannabis cultivation and production of value added products that could increase the GDP share of agriculture from 14 to 30 percent over a three year projected time frame. This, if administered inclusively, will help to reduce the percentage of people below the poverty line from 29 to 15 percent by 2025. It is Scarce Commodity’s mandate to help Dominica and every other Caribbean country to understand the nostalgic value of what is unique to the locality in an attempt to increase the region’s chances as a trading bloc to the rest of the world. The global atmosphere is headed in the direction of a Global Cannabis Index (GCI) and the Caribbean must prepare itself not be caught off guard. The Global Cannabis Industry (GCI) will exist with or without the Caribbean’s participation in the market. Therefore we must organise now to increase the Caribbean’s share of this Global Cannabis Industry (GCI).

What is Scarce Commodity’s objective?
Against this backdrop, Scarce Commodity established by the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus to provide consultation, technical support, educate, enhance and market the potential of the Caribbean’s Cannabis Industries (CCI) in a sustainable manner. Scarce Commodity places a strong focus on improving health and wellness, expanding existing industries and creating sustainable wealth for the region. Scarce Commodity’s objectives include but are not limited to; assisting the Caribbean region to understand the importance of understanding the Cannabis Industry (CI) from and integrated approach to foster linkages across sectors that will foster sustainable growth in GDP, increase intraregional trade, increase foreign currency inflow to the region, increase GDP capita, increase standard of living, reduce the cost of infrastructural development, reduce the cost of energy and therefore increasing regional integration and economic development.

What is the issue?
Intraregional trade within CARICOM is the lowest among all trading blocs in the world. Intraregional trade in the Caribbean and Latin America is fourth in the world . As it relates to global trade and commerce at present, the Caribbean region does not have sufficient commodities to trade within itself and by extension does not have to trade with the rest of the world sufficiently. As a result, countries have been disenfranchised from each other. Gold is a commodity, rice is a commodity, corn is commodity, wheat a commodity, tourisim is a commodity and cannabis/hemp are also commodities that will give the Caribbean an opportunity to have a footing in the global trade and commerce. Scarce Commodity understands where the global financial markets are headed; currently has a solid template that Scarce Commodity will follow and gradually implement for the Caribbean region.

The Caribbean region is in diror need of documenting and conserving the regions native Cannabis staiva sub. spp. sativa that has acclimatized and stablized to the Caribbean region. The heavy eradication efforts in the past and the importation of temperate, indoor and sub-tropical cannabis genetics in recent times will and continue to deplite our chances of nostalgic marketing stratiges, geographic branding and the medical and theraputic value of cannabis produced in our tropical hempisphere.

How will Scarce Commodity operate?
The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus has put together a team of experts to establish Scarce Commodity that will act as the overarching umbrella under which all the alternative Cannabis/Hemp companies will fall. Scarce Commodity has been conducting extensive semi structured interviews with respective stakeholders including but not limited to the Government officials within CARICOM and North America, the respective Ganja Growers Associations, the Cannabis Licencing Authorities and cannabis business owners and potentional investors both locally, regionally and internationally to gain feedback to provide the best packaged proposal for the region. The results emanating suggests that in an attempt not remain behind the eight ball, and to move the Caribbean nations forward. Should Scarce Commodity receive minimal bureaucratic hindrances from government Ministries Department and Agencies within CARICOM, the implementation of the proposed strategy will require a coordinated effort both internally and externally from everyone to move forwad as an entire region.

How will Scarce Commodity integrate the Caribbean?
• The Scarce Commodity Magazine (currently in production) and the Scarce Commodity TV are mediums through which the entity carries out its mandate.

• Scarce Commodity has been packaging and disseminating information on the potential benefits of cannabis theraputically under the colour code; green for THC, pink for CBD and the gold for Ital on its apparel.

• Scarce Commodity has been conducting economic impact assessment of cultural events which includes Cannabis Festivals. Based on recommendation from the assessment of the 14th Annual Stepping High Cannabis Festival, Scarce Commodity hosted the UWI Cannabis Cup Jamaica 420 at the Jamaica Conference Centre in association with the Ganja Growers and Producers Association Jamaica on the 20th of April 2017.

• With the requsite funding and cooperation from regional governments Scarce Commodity will implement a comprehensive audit throughout the region from and integrated approach across various disciplines of the existing Cannabis Carribean Economy (CCE).

• Scarce Commodity has been documenting, characterizing, stablizing, replicating and testing the phytochemical profiles of the native tropically cultivated landrace Cannabis sativa sub. spp. sativa within Jamaica and the Caribbean.

Why is Scarce Commodity relevant?
Granting a few license to a few licenses to fogein investors will minimise the regions ability to benefit holistically. The region is already behind. Decriminalisation and legalisation of Medical Cannabis without regulated infastructer has been strongly ill advised based on the recommendations from UNGASS. Before we regulate we must create. If not production has been and will remain in its same haphazard nature and the fight against illegal production will not cease but is expected to increase.

Special thanks to the Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica, the University of the West Indies, Open Campus Dominica, the Rastafari Inity Waitikubuli Multipurpose Cooperative and the House of Nyahbinghi Waitikubuli for putting together and hosting the symposium held on the 23rd May 2017, “The Way Forward for the Engagement of Cannabis in Dominica.”