President Irfaan Ali today announced today that he plans to meet with marijuana farmers from across the country as his government looks to capitalize on the hemp industry. The cultivation and trafficking of marijuana are still illegal in Guyana and remain criminal offenses. It is unclear how the farmers will be identified for the meeting with the President.
During a press conference at State House today, President Ali said the move to engage marijuana farmers is to encourage them to move away from cultivating the illicit drug and to turn to hemp cultivation which can bring benefits to the country. Hemp is considered a botanical class of marijuana that is grown specifically for industrial or medicinal use.
“I intend to have a meeting very soon with all the marijuana growers in this country, I intend to have a meeting and to let them understand that there is a viable future in the hemp industry and bring them into that discussion and move away from the marijuana that has social consequences and come into a mainstream economic activity that does not have that impact,” the President said.
The President is firm that the hemp industry is a lucrative one, and Guyana’s economy can benefit significantly once the industry becomes part of the country’s economy.
“There is a great opportunity that lies ahead in terms of the hemp industry and what it can do in terms of the technological push—construction material, pharmaceuticals, I have looked at some numbers, unbelievable numbers on the return per acre. And I have a duty, the government has a duty to analyze all of this,” President Ali noted.
The President said the marijuana farmers already have the experience, explaining that much work will not have to be done to build capacity.
Earlier this year, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo committed that the government will facilitate the planting and production of hemp in Guyana in an orderly way.
There is currently no legislation in Guyana for the production of industrial hemp and the President did not explain how this key issue will be addressed.
The Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit has been leading a national drug eradication exercise that has unearthed hundreds of acres of marijuana farms, especially in the Berbice area.