After years of advocacy Cabinet green-lights Guyana Hemp Policy
By Kurt Campbell
“The battle to legalise industrial hemp in Guyana has come to an end,” were the words of Co-Chair of the Guyana Hemp Industries (GHI), Michael Kirton when he sat down for an interview with the News Room on Tuesday.
Kirton was reporting on a meeting between a GHI delegation and Vice President, Dr Bharat Jagdeo on Monday night.
He said Dr Jagdeo confirmed that the Guyana Hemp Policy has finally received Cabinet’s no objection paving the way for the cultivation of industrial hemp in Guyana.
It comes after almost five years of dedicated and serious lobbying and millions of dollars spent on education awareness. According to Kirton, the latest development has increased enthusiasm among those who have long lobbied for the legalisation of hemp in Guyana.
He hopes that the first hemp seed can be planted here by August 2020 but a regulatory framework will have to be put in place first. That framework would likely see the setting up of an agency that would monitor the industry in terms of licensing, taxes, and the likes.
A government source confirmed with the News Room that the full approval will be given shortly. But before that, there will need to be legislative changes. GHI stands ready to support this process, Kirton said.
He thanked Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall S.C for putting forward the legal recommendations for the establishment of the industry.
“GHI is heartened by the announcement…and shortly will begin to do what it needs to do to get industry moving.
“We must congratulate the government for taking this step, for granting us permission to carry on this industry… we spoke and spoke to the last government and they did nothing but we are heartened by the response of the Irfaan Ali administration,” Kirton said.
The final approval will be given under tight control, the News Room was informed. It comes as there are lingering fears that hemp can be used recreationally and it could camouflage the cultivation of marijuana which remains illegal.
Kirton told the News Room that the government has promised support with farming equipment and noted that land clearing has begun along the East Bank of Berbice.
“It is not often that an entire country mobilises and is excited over a crop and industrial hemp is a difference and we hope all our groups and framers on hearing this will begin to put their houses in order so as soon as we say go we run,” he added.
Speaking on the readiness of hemp advocates across the country, Kirton said everyone stands ready to start the associated production and manufacturing activities with land clearing underway.
He said the body has already entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a USA-based company to provide supplies seeds and equipment needed to start the project in Guyana.
Kirton said the returns are pegged at $6 million from every acre of hemp every 90 – 100 days.