Will leaseholders on state lands be given medicinal marijuana ultimatum?

Will leaseholders on state lands be given medicinal marijuana ultimatum?

The question of whether persons holding lease agreements on close to 3,500 acres of state landsidentified as suitable for medicinal marijuana cultivation will be given an ultimatum to plant the crop or vacate the lease is a question that is beingraised.

Minister of Housing and Lands Montgomery Daniel, while debating the Medicinal Cannabis Industry Bill 2018 in parliament on Monday, spoke of the importance of those lands to the cultivation of marijuana for medicinal purpose as he addressed the question of small farmer involvement in the industry.

Minister Housing and Lands Hon. Montgomery Daniel 

Daniel said that establishing the medicinal marijuana industry requires land use and the chief surveyor has identified lands on several government estates across St Vincent and the Grenadines that can be used for the production of marijuana like any other crops. He said the chief surveyor has identified 2,445 acres at Orange Hill, some 295 acres at Langley Park, 80 acres at Colonarie, 60 acres in SanSouci, 40 acres in Grand Sable and 500 acres in Richmond.

“And so, according to the chief surveyor, we do have some 3,420 acres of land that can be made available to the production of marijuana under the bill that is before us. You also have private lands that may to up to just over 2,000 acres thatcan become available.

But what is critical here in terms of the government estate lands, that all these lands would havebeen leased to a number of farmers across St Vincent and the Grenadines. Sothat, despite the fact that we do have almost 3,500 acres of lands on the governmentholdings, that these lands are vested in small farmers, though some of theirleases are null and void and they may not have been cultivating the lands tothe max, or to the optimum,” Daniel said.

The minister who has responsibility for lands, said further: “But, what is important here is that the authority I believe would have to establish rules, going forward, as to how these lands will be utilized. The average acreage that we are speaking about here on all of these farms, is approximately 3 to 5 acres.”

Daniel said the chief surveyor has identified that all of the lands are under a lease agreement and that “some may be up to date in terms of their payments, some may not.” “And, because they are not up to date in their payments,  their leases can become null and void. So that, ensuring that lands are there, it means therefore that, yes the lands have been identified but, the government, I believe, will have to assist the authority in ensuring  that lands become available whether or not they renew the leases or whether or not they identifythe persons who are on these lands to be involved in the establishment ofmarijuana production on these lands.

Therefore, MrSpeaker, all of these lands would have been occupied by small farmers. And so, small farmers are there who can immediately get involved into marijuana production, for the cultivation of medicinal marijuana,” the government minister told parliament.

The Medicinal Cannabis Industry Bill 2018 was passed on Monday.