After ‘long journey’ of advocacy, GHI welcomes legislation for industrial hemp

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By Kurt Campbell

Kurt@newsroom.gy

After seven years and with millions of dollars spent on lobbying and advocacy, the Guyana Hemp Industries (GHI) has welcomed the tabling of legislation in the National Assembly that now paves the way for the production of industrial hemp in Guyana.

GHI, the company behind the unrelenting activism for the legalisation and production of industrial hemp, said it has spent millions of dollars on education awareness and that it will continue with a Hemp Awareness Week to be observed from May 23 – 28.

Lands have been cleared, people are standing by and equipment is ready to be put to the plow once the National Assembly debates and passes the Bill which was laid in the House on May 17, 2022.

Co-Chair of the Guyana Hemp Industries (GHI), Michael Kirton (Photo: News Room/July 13, 2021)

Co – Chair of GHI, Michael Kirton, told the News Room on Saturday at the Agri-Investment Forum and Expo at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) that “it has been a long journey” to get here.

“I am personally happy that the government has taken this initiative so swiftly.

“It was a hard task meeting with the last administration who did nothing and I am very happy that the Irfaan Ali government has moved to this level,” Kirton said.

He hopes that the law will be debated and passed soon so that the first hemp seed can also be planted to kick-off the multibillion-dollar industry.

In the meantime, as Guyana prepares to become an industrial hemp producing nation, GHI will be engaged in a week of activities to sensitise Guyanese and visitors the economic, social and health benefits of industrial hemp.

The week of activities will culminate on May 28 with an award ceremony to recognise those who have been at the forefront of the fight.

“The battle to legalise industrial hemp in Guyana has come to an end.

“We are extra happy and now we await the first bell,” Kirton said.

While GHI is a company, the Guyana Hemp Association (GHA) was also at the Agri-Investment Forum and Expo and Kirton, a founding member of the Association, said GHI stands ready to work with all agencies to ensure a lucrative hemp industry in Guyana.

U.S – based Guyanese businessman Verman Bedessee

As Chairman of Guyana Hemp Industries, Verman Bedessee also spoke to the News Room on Saturday and said he hopes that the law and systems can be in place soon so that farmers can take advantage of the current rainy season.

He said GHI has always been prepared for the moment with direct experience from planting hemp in the United States of America and even now investors are waiting with excitement.

He said GHI will not only be planting hemp, but will also put focus on cash crops, fruits and vegetables, with a target on poor families and single parents.

“I always knew it was going to come around but the question was always when? I am happy it is here and happy to see the government playing a bigger role to create jobs,” Bedessee added.

The bill before Parliament addresses the legal procedures for cultivating and manufacturing industrial hemp and hemp-related products locally but more importantly, it proposes the establishment of an Industrial Hemp Regulatory Authority.

The government had long talked up its support for facilitating the planting and production of industrial hemp in Guyana and identified East Berbice Corentyne (Region Six) and Upper Demerara/Upper Berbice (Region 10) as the first two regions where cultivation will be undertaken.

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