The Misuse of Drugs (Industrial Hemp) Regulations, 2019, establishes the rules to govern the manufacturing and processing of hemp products, as well as the cultivation of industrial hemp, which the rules mandates can have a maximum tetrahydrocannabinol content of 1%.
Hemp products, though not listed explicitly in the regulations, can cover a wide range of commodities ranging from food products, medicine, construction materials, hemp oil, personal care products and more. Recent estimates have placed the global hemp industry at just below USD $5 billion in 2019, with growth projects placing that figure palpably above USD $10 billion in 2026.
The rules also constitute the Hemp Industry Oversight Committee (“The Committee”) that is designed to oversee the registration and licensing of the activities authorized under the regulations. In accordance with the rules, Gazetted on August 17, 2019, a person shall apply to the Committee for registration to conduct activities such as operating a facility to process industrial hemp; cultivating industrial hemp; processing industrial hemp; or importing or exporting industrial hemp seeds.
While The Committee is responsible for the oversight of the aforementioned activities, the Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) oversees the registration of fields to be utilized for industrial hemp cultivation. Among other restrictions, BAHA, in accordance with Regulation 7, “shall not register a field to be used for cultivating industrial hemp if that field is less than one acre.”
According to Regulation 4(2), the Committee is comprised of the Directors of BAHA who represent the Ministries of Agriculture, Trade, and Health. It will also include BAHA’s Managing Director and a member of the Police Department designated by the Commissioner of Police.
The law mandates license holders to ensure that either their fields or facilities are open to inspectors from BAHA or the Belize Police Department to ensure compliance. Penalties for contravention of any of the provisions include a fine of $5,000 and “confiscation of the product or closure of the facility, as the case may be.”
Under the rules, it is possible for individuals to obtain the relevant license to conduct industrial-hemp related research. For a research license, individuals would have to notify the Committee of the purpose of the research, how long is the study expected to last, the quantities of seeds to be tested each year, the acreage under production, the date when production is schedule to commence, and “any other relevant information required.”
From the Belize Chamber of Commerce website.