As medical cannabis remains out of reach to the majority of patients in the UK, a number of Commonwealth countries – many former territories of the British Empire – have begun to take a more progressive approach to cannabis.
These smaller countries are less shackled by the legal frameworks binding larger countries, meaning they can advance cannabis policies faster than most.
As a result, one by one they are becoming more tolerant and evidence-based.
Countries like Jamaica, somewhat understandably, have embraced cannabis legalisation quickly following action in the US.
Jamaica has a large Rastafarian population which has used cannabis spiritually and medically for many years. As well as smoked, in Jamaica, cannabis is widely drunk as a medicinal tea.
Jamaica is not alone, though. Other countries, such as Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, are all making significant changes to their cannabis policies.
It remains to be seen as to whether Jamaica will be able to overcome the
Countries situated in the Caribbean are ideally-placed to take advantage of the new cannabis world; their sunshine and unprecedented local cannabis knowledge give them a great base to build from.
Jamaica’s first cannabis export actually happened last September. A company knowns as Timeless Herbal Care was responsible for the first ever sale of a shipment of cannabis oil to Canada – something many thought we would never see.
The whole project apparently took five years from its initial concept to realisation!
On their website, Timeless now claim to be exporting cannabis oil to 23 countries.
The ministry of industry for Jamaica Audley Shaw said this about the development:
“Jamaica is uniquely positioned to be a global player and we are committed to providing the leadership and resources required for opening the international markets, including Canada and Europe, for our licensed and regulated Jamaican companies”
In Antigua and Barbuda, changes to cannabis law have been implemented following strong lobbying from Rastafarian groups. A new bill has passed which allows for the possession of 10 grams of cannabis and up to four plants in the home.
Gaston Browne, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda has even publicly apologised to Rastafarian communities, stating that prohibition and demonisation of cannabis has lead to the unnecessary persecution of Rastafarian communities. Listen to it yourself on Soundcloud here:
Barbados has recently agreed to a medical cannabis program and their prime minister has stated that a referendum will soon be held regarding the legalisation of recreational weed.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines have completely decriminalised cannabis and have actually created a medical cannabis committee which has been tasked with growing the medical cannabis industry and exploring everything that is possible from cannabis and other plant medicines.
Meanwhile in Europe
Even countries like Malta, which has historically had extremely strict drug laws driven by a strong Catholic community, are now trying to drop dogma and give way to scientific proof regarding medical cannabis.
As a result, you can now apply for a licence to grow medical cannabis there.
So, while cannabis is getting the renaissance it deserves in the Caribbean, in Europe, things may be
As legalisation sweeps across the world, it will soon become clear that to be left behind on this global green rush will mean missing out on a huge economic opportunity.
Therefore, it’s inevitable that more and more burocracy-laden countries – including the UK – will jump on the wagon.
We give it three years tops. What do you think?