Minister Kareem Musa says he's been tasked to explore the opportunities for cannabis and Industrial hemp - as lucrative export industries.
Once upon a time - any talk of marijuana exportation - was the third rail of politics - but inside the United States - 16 states have legalised the use of recreational marijuana and it is a lucrative market.
Same for hemp - for which Belize now has retrained a consultant to advise the country. Here's more:
Hon. Kareem Musa, minister of New Growth Industries "Belize as you know we have unusual laws when it comes to Cannabis. Currently the law that is in place allows you to have possession up to 10 grams of Cannabis, but where do you buy it from? You cannot grow it. You cannot purchase it legally, but you are allowed to have it and you are allowed to smoke recreationally. So what we do have in place currently is recreational use of Cannabis, but no way of purchasing it or growing it and so we as a country we have been bystanders in this industry. We have been spectators watching the world pass us by in terms of progress in the Cannabis industry. Many countries taking advantage of the opportunities arising but Belize has not. I would say up to 90% of all Cannabis that is recreational consume in Belize comes from either Mexico or the United States and so that is a lot of Belizean dollars going out to other countries that have been taking advantage of these opportunities. On the cusp of 2021 I have been tasked by the prime minister to lead the Ministry of New Growth Industries and that includes, but is not limited to hemp, industrial hemp cultivation in Belize as well as the possibility of Cannabis cultivation and manufacturing in Belize and so upon assuming this particular ministry we've been contacted at the ministry by several experts across the world including places like Jamaica, the United States and recently we were contacted and visited by Mr. Alex Levine of growth industries in the United States. He is a well establish expert and a professional and a businessman in the Cannabis industry in the United States. He operates out of Rhode Island out of California and Florida and he has agreed to offer guidance and believe it or not free of cost to the people of Belize."
Musa says there are 42 licenses for industrial hemp but zero activity in this market. He says that in the middle of January will have a virtual zoom conference with license holders etc to come up with an industry wide policy.
And, what about marijuana? That's a related discussion but much more complex. First, because it's legal to smoke, but not legal to buy, and second, because the sale of weed in Belize is currently controlled by gang - based cartels. Musa took on the issue and all those complexities:
Hon. Kareem Musa, Minister of New Growth Industries "It is my hope that we would see the benefit of even Cannabis tourism in Belize. Just imagine for one second the amount of cruise ships whenever that does return, the cruise ships that come into our harbor it's over a million people a year. Imagine those people coming off of those ships actually engaging in Cannabis tourism. The amount of revenue that can be generated for Belize and so we have to find ways in order to make this not just a productive sector that can generate revenue for the country, but also an industry that would provide jobs for all of the people who have been affected by this Cannabis industry. In the past there are so many people that are imprisoned because of Cannabis and so we have to find ways for those particular people the most marginalize people to benefit from this industry, so leading the way forward we are going to have to be very creative, very innovative in coming up with a policy that works for Belize."
Jules Vasquez, reporter "Now, I am sure you are aware of the complexity of trying to legislate the legal trafficking of marijuana, not hemp, marijuana, because right now and you know this I would say over 2 dozen people every year are killed because of these turf wars over marijuana. It's a huge market and if you introduce outside players to all these people, dors you might want to call them or man who di run weed, traffickers who have been taking all these risks for all these years and you legalize that market and you capitalize that market then certain at the top of the economic chain may have an advantage of them over ability to source financing, if you can even do that. I'm saying that you could create a situation that's even more volatile than the turf wars we are having right now. It's a curiously sensitive thing because selling marijuana in the most marginalize community is a huge market and you know how many are dying because of trying to control that turf."
Hon. Kareem Musa, Minister of New Growth Industries "Yes, and that is exactly why I said earlier that is it absolutely imperative that whatever policy we create whether it is a cooperative of growers, of cultivators, of sellers, of distribution spots, it has to be able to include the most marginalize in our country and so that policy is essential, us carving out a place for these very players that you are discussing. It cannot be that they are sidelined."
It was a wide ranging discussion with many more layers, and those who want more, can see the entire uncut interview on our 7NEWS BELIZE facebook page.
The great cannabis debate is once again at the forefront of public discourse, particularly following an announcement that the Ministry of New Growth Industries is partnering with a well-known American expert and businessman in the field of cannabis cultivation. The conversation also includes the legalization of marijuana, as well as the illegal market in which cannabis is sold. Earlier today, Chief Executive Officer Alex Lavin, of Growth Industries, informed via a social media post of the partnership between the Government of Belize and his company. A quick look at Lavin’s LinkedIn profile shares the following mission statement, “ to cultivate quality cannabis operations and industry leaders committed to advancing best practices. I work with carefully selected clients to develop custom business strategies based on models we’ve successfully implemented and continuously improve upon in various states.” Minister of New Growth Industries Kareem Musa, who is also the Minister of Home Affairs, starts off by discussing the hemp industry and the fact that despite a decriminalization of certain amounts of marijuana, Belize is still lagging behind in the lucrative industry.
Kareem Musa, Minister of New Growth Industries
“The conversation has been going on for quite sometime, many years even, because the cannabis industry has been exploding worldwide in terms of converting from a problem to an opportunity. Other countries, including the United States, including recently Mexico and Uruguay, have all been making moves to legalize cannabis in their respective countries. Just take a look at Colorado, it is a multi-billion dollar industry there. Belize, as you know, we have very unusual laws when it comes to cannabis. Currently, the law that is in place allows you to have possession up to ten grams of cannabis, but where do you buy it from? You cannot grow it, you cannot purchase it legally, but you are allowed to have it and you are allowed to smoke recreationally. So what we do have in place currently is recreational use of cannabis but no way of purchasing it or growing it and so we, as a country, we have been bystanders in this industry. We have been spectators, so to speak, watching the world pass us by in terms of progress in the cannabis industry. Many countries taking advantage of the opportunities arising, but Belize has not. I would say [that] up to ninety percent of all cannabis that is recreationally consumed in Belize comes from either Mexico or the United States and so that is a lot of Belizean dollars going out to other countries that have been taking advantage of these opportunities. Mind you, that is contraband cannabis coming across the borders, it is illegal.”
42 Cannabis Licenses Issued, Still No Manufacturing of Hemp Products
In speaking about Lavin’s background and expertise in the cannabis industry, Minister Musa points out that there is no specialist in the area of cannabis farming locally. He says that with forty-two licenses approved by the previous administration, none of those individuals or companies have been able to successfully manufacture cannabis in the past year.
Kareem Musa, Minister of New Growth Industries
“Where we are today, 2020, on the cusp of 2021, I have been tasked by the prime minister to lead the Ministry of New Growth Industries and that includes, but is not limited to, hemp, industrial hemp cultivation in Belize, as well as the possibility of cannabis cultivation and manufacturing in Belize. And so, upon assuming this particular ministry we’ve been contacted at the ministry by several experts across the world, including places like Jamaica, the United States and recently we were contacted and visited by Mr. Alex Lavin of Growth Industries in the United States. He is a well-established expert and a professional and a businessman in the cannabis industry in the United States. He operates out of Rhode Island, out of California and Florida and he has agreed to offer guidance and, believe it or not, free of cost to the people of Belize. And so this is an exciting new time for us at the ministry, so we will have this expert because we don’t have any local experts in Belize. When you look at the hemp industry in particular, it has been over one year and a half since industrial hemp has been legalized in Belize, but you cannot point me to a single license holder that has successful grown, manufactured and sold hemp in this country. There are currently forty-two licenses that exist over the course of a year and a half, forty-two.”
We will have much more on the cannabis conversation in our newscast on Wednesday.
Continuing with our focus on the Ministry of New Growth’s foray into hemp production, in early 2021 a meeting will be convened with stakeholders and other interested parties in the up and coming industry to see how policies can be implemented to guide the sector forward. Taking a progressive approach, Minister Kareem Musa is already looking at the possibility of cannabis tourism which, once it becomes a reality, will see visitors participating in the industry as consumers of various products. The idea, first of all, is to ensure transparency within the market.
Kareem Musa, Minister of New Growth Industries
“One of the very first steps that we will be undertaking because we don’t want to be like the former administration, is to be very open and transparent. And so, by the middle of January to the ending of January we will be having our first virtual Zoom [meeting] with stakeholders, businesspeople, with other consultants, with other experts, so to speak, who want to get into this particular industry, who want to develop this policy. Once that policy can be developed and can be agreed upon by all, at least a majority, we can then take that police to cabinet and thereafter take that policy to the house in the form in the form of legislation. It is my hope that we would see the benefit of even cannabis tourism in Belize. Just imagine for one second, the amount of cruise ships, whenever that returns, the cruise ships that come into our harbor, it’s over a million people a year. Imagine those people coming off of those ships actually engaging in cannabis tourism, the amount of revenue that can be generated for Belize. And so we have to find ways to make this not just a productive sector that can generate revenue for the country but also an industry that could provide jobs for all of the people who have been affected by this cannabis industry in the past. There are so many people that are imprisoned because of cannabis and so we have to find ways for those particular people, the most marginalized people to benefit from this industry. So leading the way forward, we’re going to have to be very creative and very innovative in coming up with a policy that works for Belize.”
“Existing Marijuana Laws Make No Sense” – Kareem Musa
The question of legislation, as well as amendments to existing laws, insofar as the issuance of licenses and the cultivation of cannabis is also taking center stage in the ongoing discussion. According to Minister Musa, revising the laws is necessary particularly where compliance is concerned.
Kareem Musa, Minister of New Growth Industries
“A lot of these individuals and companies who got licenses are mere speculators. It reminds me a lot of like the oil industry, people get licenses but they have absolutely no history, no involvement in oil. Similarly, they have no history or no investment in hemp but yet they are getting into it and so that is why it is important for us to engage consultants from across the world who know about these things, who are experts in this field in order for us to succeed.”
“Will there be any amendment to the existing legislation to allow for this kind of activity without it being illegal?”
“There would absolutely have to be amendments to the law. In addition, we would have to provide regulations. In my opinion, it is an industry that has to be highly regulated, unlike the current hemp licenses that have been issued, those are not being regulated at all. Under the misuse of drugs act, it only states that you are allowed to grow industrial hemp. There is no regulation and so it is treated like any other commodity, like corn. So you get your license and you go out into the field and you start planting hemp, but there is nobody. There are no compliance officers, no inspectors, no monitors in place to go and check to ensure that the particular hemp that you are growing does not exceed the point three percent THC and then make it into marijuana, because there is that point three percent limit in terms of the THC. And so, we don’t have anybody in country right now that is doing that kind of compliance checking; and so, we have a runaway train really, but at the same time we have a blank canvas when it comes to cannabis because we have not started it yet. Yes, it is practiced and smoked recreationally, up to ten grams in Belize, but at the same time the law makes no sense and it makes no benefit for Belizeans the way it’s currently structured.”
The National Evangelical Association of Belize, NEAB, has responded to comments made by Minister of New Growth Industries Kareem Musa, in respect of the cannabis industry and the churches’ staunch opposition to such a venture. In speaking with the media earlier this week, Musa admitted that marijuana is consumed everyday in the country. While there are no economic gains from the illegal sale of the narcotic, legitimizing the trade of marijuana can potentially boost the beleaguered local economy. In its release, NEAB says it finds it, “shockingly offensive that in a national pandemic crisis, he would choose to put that issue forward in the first hundred days.” It also goes on to say, “Belize already has a serious substance abuse issue, and to suggest that legalizing and profiting off a marijuana industry will eliminate gang turf battles and murders is severely misguided.” For context, here is what Musa, who is also the Minister of Home Affairs, said.
“Are you afraid of the blowback from those churches, the NEAB, let’s say which took a very hard line last time?”
Kareem Musa, Minister of New Growth Industries
“Well, let me say this again, whether we like it or not, marijuana, cannabis is consumed in Belize on a daily basis. It is already recreationally legal, already, and so all that we are doing is saying that we need to make it benefit our country in terms of our economy. There is no greater time than now because of the challenges that we face with COVID, because of the dire state that our economy is in. We do need whatever help we can get and if we can get help and economic relief from the cannabis industry, as well the tourism industry, as well as the agriculture industry, it can all play a part in bouncing back our economy.”
ComPol Williams Weighs in on Marijuana Legalization
Commissioner of Police Chester Williams has himself spearheaded numerous anti-drug operations thus far in his career as an officer. With the cannabis conversation very much alive, what are his thoughts on the legalization of the marijuana trade?
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police
“I don’t think that it is going to have a negative impact because one of the issues we have right now is that many a times these gang members are warring or going at each other over turf for the sale of marijuana. So if it is that you have a market where they can sell their marijuana legally to a company that is going to process the marijuana and do whatever needs to be done with it then there is a market for all of them, as opposed to them fighting to sell here or fighting to sell there or killing each other out. I think that it could have some positive impact in terms of them being a part of the industry and perhaps what can also happen is that instead of giving license to plant to big time companies or big time people, we can maybe give license to some of these same young men that they can grow and then they can sell to the companies that are going to engage in the processing of the marijuana. So I think it can work for them.”
2 weeks ago, we showed you what Minister of Home Affairs and New Grow Industries Kareem Musa had to say about the Briceno Government's contemplation of exploring cannabis and industrial hemp as lucrative export industries.
Only days later, the National Evangelical Association of Belize was the first to rebuke Musa for even contemplating any further legalization of marijuana. But, he did mention that his ministry has retained a consultant by the name of Alex Lavin, the CEO of a company in Rhode Island in the US. Lavin specializes in industrial Marijuana cultivation and the products that can be used for both recreational and medicinal purposes.
And, he's also a strong advocate for marijuana and its full legalization in countries all around the world. This evening, he granted us an extended teleconference interview. He said that he is offering his expertise and knowledge to the Belize Government in the hopes that our country will approach this matter in the most responsible way possible.
Here's what he had to say on the potential for commercial success if Belize decides to pursue a marijuana industry:
Alex Lavin, Growth Industries or New England "I got to tell you it was a breath of fresh air, because I had been going to Belize in previous and I did had conversations in trying to push the envelope in previous and Kareem Musa is a breath of fresh air, he has a great understanding of what was going on and taking example of hemp. Right now there is rapid amount of licenses that were issued out, none successfully has created any style of products that actually hit consumable standards and just dealing with him in particular the only thing that we want to kind of instill is industry standards. If Belize wants to see revenue come into the country so that you can see more things happen, more in education, more in healthcare and things of that nature, you are going to need to create a standard of product that can be exported in the future. Everywhere in the United Stated and everywhere across the world everywhere including EU - you have to be CGMP or what they call UMP which is called certify good manufacturing practices. Meaning that if the FDA or any testing body would come in there it's going to say the exact amount of THC that's on it, CDB content, does it have any pesticides on it, does it have any mold on it, because then if that's the case you can't even export it, you can't even consume it, Because the last thing that you want to do is get someone sick and then put a black mark on Belize like it is not doing its job to give proper products out to its citizens, so my main 2 cents on all of this has been the standards, the job creation and more importantly getting people from Belize all involve to be able to demonstrate that job growth. You are going to get the tourist market, the local population as well, but where Belize will see a light that it's never seen before and export will be in cannabis and will be in hemp style products, but it has to meet standards, because if it's not, guess what nothing will be able to get exported."
As viewers are aware, 10 grams of marijuana has been decriminalized for a number of years now. But, its sale and cultivation are still illegal, and if the cops catch you with more than 10 grams in your possession, you can still be criminally charged. So, we asked Lavin what advice he would give if - and that's a big IF - the Government of Belize proceeds to full legalization. Here's his answer:
Reporter "Let's say for example the government says okay we will go full with this particular initiative. Where is the first place to start to make sure that we approach this marijuana industry issue with the right practices in mind?"
Alex Lavin, Growth Industries or New England "First of all will give an ease to Belizeans who partake in it religiously or in their own recreational. You have to have a clear governing body that shows recreationally that it will allow up to an ounce of cannabis, because anything else that any individual has more than that and this is coming from a person I have no shame in saying I smoke everyday and there is no way that I can smoke an ounce every single day and it's not feasible. If you have more than that then you are intent to sell. So I think there should be a measure inside of it. I think there should also be a driving force for the tourism crowd. Remember people are coming to Belize to relax, so in my opinion I think the accessibility of being able to have an identification card that tourist pay a different fee then lets say Belizeans - Belizeans should not pay anything to buy Belizean products, but I feel that tourists that come there 100% should get a fee that gets associated with it and that's guaranteed a revenue that comes into the country by issuing this card. Let's just say you have a million tourists that come to Belize on a yearly basis and we do a card for the tourists that pays a $50 fee - that's 50 million dollars for Belize just on the card before they even buy a single product."
We have much more from that interview, including some of the strong arguments against the legalization of marijuana, which we'll share with you tomorrow.
Marijuana Expert Joins Belize’s Great Cannabis Debate
Since taking office in late 2020, the Briceño Administration has moved ahead with the formal introduction of the hemp industry as a viable means of economic growth for Belize. The ensuing conversation has spawned multiple perspectives, including objection from the religious community. But there’s a strong argument to put forward, particularly when one looks at what is being done in other countries where legalization has taken place and complete industries have been established around ganja. Earlier today, Alex Lavin, C.E.O. of Growth Industries, with whom the Government of Belize has entered into consultancy with, weighed in on the economic benefits of the hemp industry. Here
s News Five
s Isani Cayetano.
Isani Cayetano, Reporting
The great debate on hemp production and the resulting legalization of marijuana has seen politicians, religious leaders, as well as the head of law enforcement, weighing in on the pros and cons of this new growth industry. From a scientific and commercial perspective, cannabis has much to offer. While detractors criticize its recreational use, proponents, including CEO Alex Lavin, realize the benefits of producing and consuming cannabis on a large scale.
Alex Lavin, C.E.O., Growth Industries
“I believe in the power of this plant, I believe in the economic capabilities of this plant and I really, what I would want nothing more is access in everywhere because if certain countries slow down it also has a trickle effect in the rest of thecountries following suit.”
As a country that is interested in hemp production, it means getting a slice of the economic pie for Belize. It also means standardizing production and quality from the onset.
“My main focal point is to be able to create a standard for cannabis that essentially it doesn’t matter if you
re in Belize, if you
re in South Florida or if you
re in Cyprus, you
re gonna get the same quality standards that anyone would be able to go and take it. And from my standpoint being an avid user of medicine, I would be the first one to say that these standards allow for the consumer notto get sick.”
In exploring hemp production, Minister of New Growth Industries Kareem Musa and Alex Lavin, Chief Executive Officer of Growth Industries (U.S.A.), agreed to a consulting program for cannabis development in Belize.
“The conversations that I’ve had with Minister Musa is all about standards, accessibility and being able to create job creation because from that we’ll create more jobs and ancillary jobs that would be able to come into Belize. Belize has, and the reason I keep driving home standards, and I really look forward to kinda giving you a tour of our facility and just ideas that I would put to show Belize that to be able to get this to the next level is if Belize wants to see revenue come into the country so that you can see more things happen, more in education, more in healthcare and things of that nature, you
re going to need to create a standard of product that can be exportedin the future.”
In the years ahead, marijuana tourism can also attract significant revenue to the country.
Kareem Musa, Minister of New Growth Industries
“It is my hope that we would see the benefit of even cannabis tourism in Belize. Just imagine for one second, the amount of cruise ships, whenever that does return, the cruise ships that come into our harbor, it
s over a million people a year. Imagine those people coming off of those ships actually engaging in cannabis tourism, the amount of revenue that can begenerated for Belize.”
Expanding Belize’s tourism offering to include recreational consumption of marijuana is also in line with Lavin’s vision for industry growth.
“I think there should also be a driving force for the tourism crowd because remember, people are coming to Belize to relax. What
s the first thing you guys do on the weekend when it
s time to relax? So in my opinion, I think the acceptability of being able to have an identification card that tourists pay a different fee than let’s say Belizeans. Belizeans should not pay anything to buy Belizean product, but I feel that tourists that come there one hundred percent should get a fee that gets associated with it and that
s guaranteed revenue that comes into the country byissuing this card.”
The perspective shared by Lavin whose expertise is in cannabis cultivation and production is only the tip of the iceberg in exploring the possibilities hemp and marijuana. Reporting for news five, I am Isani Cayetano.
Last night, we showed you part one of our interview with marijuana and
hemp consultant Alex Lavin. He's offered to advise the Briceno
Government Administration on how best to pursue a marijuana and/or hemp
Lavin is a pro-marijuana advocate who wants to see the world's
governments embrace cannabis as a legal and taxable industry. He's
ready to export his product, but at this time, marijuana is still
Last night, we showed you Lavin's views on how why it should be
legalized in Belize and other countries. During our conversation
yesterday, we also challenged him on a number of the arguments against
marijuana, and tonight we have those parts of the interview for you.
Here's his take on the fact that it is a driver of gang-related murders
and other crime in Belize:
"As it is, there are ongoing turf wars in Belize City. I would presume that
you would have faced the same problems in the United States, prior to the
legalization of marijuana there."
Alex Lavin - CEO, Growth Industries of New England
"I'll be honest with you, in the USA, that is not really the issue. I think
the black market, and the illegal market altogether has stayed in the legal
market and have decided to stay in that kind of realm. The reality is that
I would come from the school of thought of saying let them get involved.
Let them stay in their own territories, but at the same time, give it
standards that make them feel that they are going to level up, that it
doesn't need a street mentality. I can look you straight in the face and
tell you that I came from absolutely nothing. I started in this industry a
very long time ago. I was just smart enough to realize that if you did not
associate with things the way that this was going to develop, the industry
was gonna leave you behind. So, I understand completely, 100% on the turf
aspect of, and I would think that from an educational standpoint, and from
an outreach standpoint, you would have everything from guidance counsellors
to ministers, to religious affiliates that would essentially be able to
stop some of that violence, and stop some of those turf wars, if you give -
let's just say - certain licenses, and add certain standards for safety
measures inside of those locations, where they managed those locations
themselves. I think a smart way of doing it is having one compound that is
creating all the cannabis that hits those standards. And then from there,
have them distribute it in their own territories, but through a store,
where everything can be traced, where you see the numbers that are going
through it. Why wouldn't they want a location in those areas that they are
fighting over, and say, hey, just control your own spot. The product is
going to speak for itself. Your marketing strategy will speak for itself.
And I think that will alleviate a lot of violence. I think that will
alleviate a lot of tension because at the end of the day, yeah, they were
the original recreational cannabis, and pushing that product."
An internet search on this topic has resulted in a plethora of articles
strongly advising against the recreational and habitual use of
marijuana. A repeated concern is that marijuana use in youths can have
negative impacts on brain development for those who start to smoke
before the age of 25. Pregnant mothers are advised not to consume
marijuana, as it can severely affect the development of their unborn
Is Your Weed Moldy?
Although Lavin isn't convinced that marijuana consumption is bad for
your health, he thinks that habitual smokers in the Caribbean are
putting their health at risk. That's because, in his opinion, the weed
they have been consuming from on the underworld market is riddled with
mold and powdery mildew. Yesterday, that issue did come up in his
interview with the press, and here's how that part of the conversation
"What is your personal reason why you wouldn't smoke Jamaican cannabis?"
Alex Lavin - CEO, Growth Industries of New England
"The last 2 times that I did it, it had mold on it, as soon as I cracked it
open - the same thing as whoever from Channel 5 was on, when you guys
showed the gentleman opening up the cannabis, you had mold spores all on
the inside of it. So, you might want to tell him, whoever was doing that to
maybe get a lung check in a little bit because I promise you it will be a
problem. I'm just being honest. I've seen what it can do first-hand. I've
seen x-rays of the spots that people have on the inside of their lungs.
That is not like if you have cancer. This is something completely
different. It starts with a smoker's cough, which is not an uncontrollable
one. But it lasts for a month, 2 months. For people who have that, I would
recommend getting an X-ray scan, if are habitual - if they do partake,
whether it be religiously or recreationally in what they're doing right
now. But it is a concern of mine because I will tell you with sincerity,
every single time - and I've been to Belize numerous times. I've been to
Jamaica numerous times, more than fingers, hands, and toes. I've yet to
find a single product one time in any of the 2 countries that weren't
riddled with pm or mold. Powdery mildew is the precursor to mold. So,
either one, PM or mold, you don't want to be ingesting it. A local expert,
I would love to have these conversations with them because I could get down
into the science of it. I can get into PM and start into real cannabis talk
that very few can get into. And I think that's what people need to
understand, that if you don't get it up to those standards, you'll never be
able to export. Belize will never benefit from it long-term."
Currently, Lavin has cultivation facilities that are valued at millions
of dollars. He says they were constructed to meet some of the highest
health and safety standards in the world.
The Government of Belize appears to be moving full steam ahead to legalize marijuana and establish a commercial cannabis industry. Last month the Minister responsible even introduced the media to his very own foreign cannabis consultant! So who is this "weed guy" and why is nobody asking the right questions?
Re: Could Hemp And Weed Be New Growth Industries?
#547882 01/30/2111:18 PM01/30/2111:18 PM
I am in Toronto and legalization has really not caused any problems here that come to mind. No problems with drivers or crime or any serious enough to make the news anyway. It would be a great source of tax revenue and a high dollar agricultural export with increasing demand and could generate a lot of revenue of done properly.
Is there any information on a proposed regulatory framework or opportunities that might exist to invest in the sector ?.
I have argued a few housing/human rights cases concerning marijuana legalization if I can be of any assistance. There is a massive body of medical and other information available on the topic in the last few years.
That being said what the consultant is proposing is certainly a novel approach.
Re: Could Hemp And Weed Be New Growth Industries?
#548362 02/24/2105:41 AM02/24/2105:41 AM
In a conversation with Kareem Musa, the Minister of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries, the topic of hemp came up, and the press asked him for an update on his ministry's plan for improved regulations of what could a lucrative industry for Belize. Viewers will remember that his ministry held a virtual town hall meeting 3 weeks ago to discuss the wider topic of cannabis legalization. In that conversation, Musa told the Belizeans who tuned in that while policy changes for marijuana legalization and regulation were still several months away, his ministry was closer to finishing up policy changes for industrial hemp. He added that these changes would be introduced sometime this month.
Here's what he had to say the media asked about it:
Hon. Kareem Musa- Minister of Home Affairs and new Growth Ind.
"In relation to the industrial hemp licenses that currently exist what I can tell you is that the last administration issued 36 licenses. I shared all of those licenses with your counterpart over at KREM, she had ask me for that very early on in our administration and that was provided to her. I can also share that with you all. Out of those 36 industrial hemp licenses only one company Tropican Farms is actually growing hemp in our country and so we are also revisiting all of the regulations surrounding industrial hemp, not just cannabis for the future, but industrial hemp, because when you look at the system that was in place in the last administration there was no type of zoning that was taken place. There was no application fees that the government was collecting and these particular license holders have no experience at all with industrial hemp. Most of them did not even provide a business plan and so that is why we are currently undergoing a revisiting of the regulations and we will be amending the statutory instrument very shortly to incorporate these new regulations that are put in place, because while it is that both of these industries are very lucrative industries in other countries, if you don't have the appropriate plan in place, regulations in place you will not get anywhere as you can see today."
Cannabis, it's all the rage in entrepreneurial circles, touted as the
next big cash grab, and perhaps the smartest thing Belizeans can do
with their land in the next decade.
And it seems that more and more people want in, showing out in
impressive numbers for a virtual public consultation on the subject and
listening attentively to the counsel of the Minister of New growth's
Cannabis Consultant, Alex Lavin.
He sat down with Cherisse Halsall this morning for a conversation on
the potential new industry, and the standards Belizean growers will
have to meet for both tourism and international markets. Here is that
Alex Lavin, he's Belize's Cannabis Consultant, the man poised to guide us
into a greener economy. Still, many may feel that he's come out of nowhere,
the ventriloquist dummy on Kareem Musa's lap
Many others have rolled their eyes at this white saviour of an industry
pioneered and fought for by black and brown entrepreneurs. Lavin says he
may look like a gringo but in fact, he's all Caribeno.
Alex Lavin - GOB Cannabis Consultant
"I can say this I know I look like a gringo or what have you but Soy Cubano
de todo sinceramente. I would love to see even being able to help Cuba at
some point but the reality is I came here before this administration was
here, unfortunately when I came here during that administration, I just
didn't feel as warm and fuzzy to be giving my services free and give the
insight because I just felt it was going in one ear and out the other."
And that's probably due to the fact that critics of this industry say it's
a stillborn proposal because no Belizean bank will finance it.
"When you're talking about banks federally it's illegal in the United
States and in Europe and different countries, so you're never going to see
banks start lending out money and saying here, go start building any of
that stuff because it's illegal, this is always been just like silicon
valley, just like any new emerging industry, it has always been driven by
the entrepreneur spirit and the right amount funding to get it to a level
where then banks will feel comfortable investing or financing future
projects but until there is a clear definition of standards the protocols
to those standards banks will never touch this with a ten-foot pole because
the reality is there is a lack of standards and education for the average
operator that's out there so I think as the educational piece continues to
move forward as legalization keeps inching forward on a global scale,
you're going to see banks get involved but when banks do get involved,
they're going to want to see people who know exactly know how to do it. No
one is going to write out a cheque and say good luck, go do it, it's all
going to be based on merit and showing that clear distinction to take it
from the point of the inception of a tissue culture or a seed all the way
to the finished product where it can get into this."
And without financing what hope is there for the small man or woman to get
in on the action?
"I will tell you that all sincerity that I came from the industry born and
bred from it, I want nothing more than to be able to see the incorporation
of people in its own way started the industry and kept the industry alive
as much as it has but what needs to be understood and take the emotional
aspect out of it. If right now you are buying everything from Mexico, the
majority of it is being bought from Mexico and peddled,-the country is not
making any revenue and the majority of the products that is being sold is
getting people sick and they don't even know it, between powdery mildew and
mould, that is a precursor to cancer, okay, the long-lasting effects of
this are pretty damaging if the standards are not met that you are
ingesting something that is to standard. That being said, I'll take an
example from my own companies that I have in California. We incentivize
people were from the illegal market to come out of the shadows, bring the
clientele in and become part of the culture to take this to the limelight
and that's what essentially, we did. We have countless amounts of team
members that have what we call that stripe that badge of honour that did
get in trouble or what have you. Don't expect handouts from the government
to go and finance something when anywhere in the world, nobody is financing
cannabis projects, no one, nowhere in the world, please I can't stress this
enough, that is an emotional stand point and reality needs to set in.
There's a lot of Belizeans that are very well off here take your idea and
go to a Belizean that has the capability of being able to finance some of
this stuff and let's take it to the next level but don't sit there and cry
and have a handout because then people will be disappointed."
And if you're hoping to avoid such disappointment the saving grace is in
the research, research of global hemp and cannabis standards, and staying
up to date with the upcoming Belizean framework.
"The way that we have structured the new framework that's coming out that
should be out pretty soon probably within the next 30 days or what have you
that people can read and digest. It's all gonna be merit driven to ensure
that Belize as a country is not held liable for giving back product and the
people that are emotional about the fact of like oh we're gonna get cut out
or what have you I would tell you it's the opposite if you are passionate
about this industry and you want to get to the next level in this industry,
do the application just like everywhere else in the world."
Lavin says he's paid to test Belizean products and from what he's seen,
Belize has a long way to go.
"I am telling you staring at the camera, I spent almost $4000.00 on testing
here from some of your rude boys that have all the products there to people
that are smoking it you know in their own personal ways and I said here let
me go and test the products, all of them failed, all of them not even close
to passing the threshold so I can stress this enough Belize doesn't have
the resources, if someone were to get sick from this, you have to do it
based on standards, you have to if not we're just setting ourselves up for
failure, you have to measure twice and cut once and understand where the
industry is at."
Estimated costs for a cannabis basic startup include cultivation at 2
million, Processing at 1.2 million, and Lab testing at 1.4 million.