TOO HIGH: Opposition slams gov’t cannabis licence fee

A tour guide shows marijuana growing openly in a flower garden

SOURCE: Daily Observer Running a medical marijuana operation in Antigua and Barbuda will cost an investor a whopping EC$325,000 in a licence fee, a sum so steep that, some politicians believe it may shut out the local man.

The United Progressive Party (UPP) for one, wants the government to go back to the drawing board and reduce the fee to obtain a marijuana licence.

So far, 5 applications for licences have been received, and one provisional licence has been granted at a whopping cost of EC$325,000.

But political leader of the UPP, Harold Lovell, tells Observer that the fee is outrageous.

“It is a travesty, and I cannot see how any administration could consider something like this. It shows a lack of vision,” Lovell said yesterday.

Furthermore, he said the government seems to lack the understanding that the local man should be provided the opportunity to benefit from such a profitable industry.

“This is clearly an impediment to that opportunity. Only a few will be able to afford this. The government should be looking to see how they can make it easier for Antiguans and Barbudans to get into this industry,” he said.

The UPP leader says the entire situation reeks of discrimination for those coming from countries that uses different currencies.

“It is a great injustice to Antiguans and Barbudans, showing that the government has no real plan for empowerment. This is a golden opportunity, but all they are doing is creating a doorway where a few will benefit while the vast majority will end up being gardener, cutters, carriers…providing basic labour…,” he explained.

Lovell said it is not too late for the government to return to the drawing board on that particular matter.

“They need to take a holistic look at the industry and the regulation. It is very imprecise [and] vague, and its going to lead to a lot of problems because some things that apply to one may not apply to the other,” he said.

Lovell is not the only opposition voice disagreeing with the licence fee.

The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) said in a statement that current cannabis regulations are restrictive and will impede entry to the industry for locals who may be interested in investing in the sector to capitalise on opportunities.

Louis Rivera, a spokesman for the party, said in a statement yesterday that if the government is serious about diversifying the economy, it is duty-bound to devise ways to empower locals first.

The party wants the government to review the current situation and proposes that the existing licencing fees be reflected in Eastern Caribbean (EC) dollars and not United States (US) dollars, and further, that these fees be reduced by fifty percent, thereby making them more affordable to locals.

But chief of staff in the Prime Minister’s office, Lionel ‘Max’ Hurst, told Observer that the fees only apply to those using cannabis for medical purposes.

Hurst said further that the licence fee, which many residents say is too steep, is justified.

“It is a fair way of ensuring that those who enter into the market have the resources to support the commercial use of the cannabis in a medicinal form. Growing marijuana for the purposes of creating medicine is a rather intricate undertaking, and not many will have the capability of so doing. This is why the [fee] amount is so high,” he added.

The government warned that there are to be no waivers on the licence fee. the Cabinet agreed.

The law anticipates that for religious purposes, cannabis grown by approved Rastafarian groups, will not have those fees applied, but will still be required to abide by other strictures as articulated in the law.

The Cannabis Board requires an injection of funds and seven employees to allow it to function.

The employees will be drawn from government departments, since there are to be no new hirings within the public sector, and funds will be provided to allow this sector to begin to yield returns as anticipated when the law was adopted.

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  1. UPP is late. The DNA beat them to it in calling for the fee to be lowered. The same Joanne Massiah who Lovell badplayed; her party is taking shape as the real opposition.

  2. Actually, the fee should be doubled. Harry just looking for votes, but he finish. DNA is the true opposition.

  3. Harold “Stoic” Lovell, and his bunch of #Cackling Hens and #Ragtime band are late. They had the opportunity, to set the pace in the Caribbean and put proper progressive policies in place to manage this #HEMP INDUSTRY.

    A… There should be #No #FEE for growing the Male or female species of this plant.

    B…FEE’s should begin at
    (i) intent to produce by products.
    (ii) intent to sell to the general public.

    I never envisioned the light of night, through the darkness of days when Caribbean Governments became #DOPE DEALERS!

    • Ras, perhaps you don’t understand. This “grow op” is medical pot ONLY. It will be highly regulated. The fee should be double and the People’s Goverenment should receive 50% of the profit.

      • @Sekunda X…I can tell, along with the hovering #Buzzards #John Crows, that the Government don’t know what they’re doing.
        They see Nations which have being developing the machinery and systems in this Industry for decades, and is ‘trying a ting!’
        The first order of the day! This is the HEMP Industry, not the marijuana medical or recreational or any other. This is where the problem begins.

        Time is longer than rope, and laws/policies can be rescinded, abolished or tweak!
        This plant has being with HUMANITY since, for centuries and it will continue to be that way for centuries to come.

        The Parable of the Sargasso Sea…
        As a side note, the #SargassumWeed and this “weed,” go together.
        “Captain,” said the Deckhand, “cast thy buckets where thou are!”
        “Cast thy buckets where thou are!”

  4. LYAD. LYAD. LYAD Lovell shut your DAMN mouth. Stop looking for votes. $325,000 is reasonable price for the license.

  5. So Pete,why you do not go and pay it.That is not a reasonable price to pay for that license.Do you have $325,000 in all of your total assets.

    • Gaston Browne is now into farming and he has that kind of money one hundred times over. He can go into that business or his millionaire at 17 son.

    You are correct. DNA will be the official opposition in 2023. UPP is DESTROYED / FINISHED. Harold is trying to be relevant. Harold , Gisele destroyed the UPP. UPP done.

  7. I am at a loss to understand why Harold just came out and said that Cannabis licence is too expensive without showing figures to support his statement. LYAD HAROLD stop promoting IGNORANCE.

    • @PHILIP.G.
      Do you think $325,000 is too much to pay for that license? I say it is.I do not need to show any damn figures.In Colorado it is way less expensive for a cultivation license.The license is based on the amount of plants you would want to cultivate.I were an investor in that business while living in Colorado.I sold my interests when I moved out of that State.

  8. Hon. Gaston Browne …We as Antiguans must be careful about this Marijuana business. The world is watching. Just be sure that The industry is controlled. Hon. Gaston Browne you are the Best Finance Minister in the Caribbean. Antigua / Barbuda are proud to have a Prime Minister as You.

  9. The Marijuana Industry will put a lot of money in the Treasury. Prime Minister ignore Harold Lovell and UPP. UPP bunch of LOSERS.

  10. The world is going through a FINANCIAL CRISIS. I am totally in agreement with C.JONES. The marijuana industry will put lots of money in our TREASURY.

  11. There is a Lebanese kid and a Syrian kid growing all types of weed that they want. their parents know people so they are able to supply the island…. surprised you people don’t know about this. I bet they don’t have to pay for no damn registration fee either. This is how things work in this corrupt shit hole of a nation. The people let this crap happen so they deserve what they get. The kid that owns weedadli and some other kid by the name of Kareem both grow copious amounts of high grade marijuana and supply a lot of people with it. Go argue with them instead of bickering and moaning on the internet.

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