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President hopes to shift marijuana farmers to hemp production

Last Updated on Sunday, 6 March 2022, 14:19 by Denis Chabrol

President Irfaan Ali on Sunday announced that he plans to meet with marijuana farmers to encourage them to get into the cultivation of high-value hemp.

” I intend to have a meeting very soon with all the marijuana growers in this country. I intend to have a meeting and to let them understand that there is a viable future in the hemp industry and bring them into that discussion and move away from the marijuana that has social consequences and come into mainstream economic activity that does not have that impact and has that returns,” he told a news conference.

The Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) last  year seized 1,976,956 kilogrammes of marijuana and destroyed at least 10 acres of marijuana cultivations.

Stressing that he was “realistic” rather than “shooting in the dark”, the President said the prospects for Guyana getting into hemp were great because farmers could rake in millions in production for the pharmaceutical and construction industries.  “They already have the experience in growing…they come with the technical skills, frankly speaking,” he said.

Marijuana growers are not organised under the umbrella of an association, unlike St Vincent and the Grenadines. Several Caribbean islands have started to produce medicinal marijuana for export to North America and Europe.

The Guyana government is this year expected to table legislation to govern the hemp industry and eventually put measures in place to ensure that farmers do not mask hemp production with marijuana.

Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn had said during the 2020 National Budget debate that a number of retrenched sugar workers had shifted to marijuana as a means of eking out a living.