By Felicia J. Persaud & Danielle Corbin
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Feb. 16, 2021: Over a year after the passage of Barbados’ Medicinal Cannabis Industry Act, the Caribbean island nation officially opened for business last month, January 2021.
The launch of the sector, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, comes at a time when the local Barbados economy, and wider regional Caribbean economy – long dependent on tourism for its ‘bread and butter’ – are being hammered, and facing an economic crisis of major proportion.
The national debt of Barbados is now around US $6.35 billion and the International Monetary Fund, (IMF), in a February 5th assessment, noted that the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a major impact on Barbados’ economy.
The economy is estimated to have contracted by about 18 percent in 2020, as tourism arrivals remain at a fraction of normal levels. The IMF also pointed out that recent increases in COVID-19 cases in key source markets, including the US and the UK, will likely delay Barbados’ economic recovery.
Adding to that is the recent outbreak of COVID-19 in Barbados, which led to an ongoing lockdown that IMF analysts predict will also further reduce economic activity in the first quarter of this year. Barbados’ Prime Minister, Mia Mottley, estimated a loss in economic activity of about BDS$150 million (US$75 million) as a result of the extended lockdown through Feb. 28, 2021.
The new medical marijuana sector offers much hope – if marketed and promoted correctly. As Alejandro Werner, director of the IMF’s Western Hemisphere Department recently pointed out in his latest outlook on the Americas, the Caribbean region needs to look long-term at economic diversification.
Barbados is in prime position to do this with the medical marijuana sector, as the medical marijuana industry globally is set to achieve over 29% CAGR up to 2025, reaching USD 59 Billion, according to Global Market Insights.
Barbados, given its location to the US, Canada and Europe where the growth of the medical marijuana industry is being primarily driven by increasing requirement of medical cannabis for the treatment of various conditions, can, with the right partners, tap into this market share.
It offers Barbados a major solution to its economic woes while allowing it to diversify its economy away from the over dependence on tourism.
The key, however, is ensuring a smooth public, private sector partnership going forth and a seamless investment environment that includes local entrepreneurs and farmers, who have long been at the forefront of a snubbed and illegal industry.
Barbados needs to establish itself internationally as the leader for the Caribbean in the development of the cannabis industry. A dynamic and sophisticated one-stop solution is the newly minted ‘Green Glove Bespoke Service,’ being offered by ICN and The Ritzury Group – Bespoke.
It will allow all foreign investors the ease of entering this market with an expert lead ground-up project development service that will provide: Cannabis Project Design and Development, Cannabis Project – Investor Placement, Research and Development (market and feasibility studies included) and the Registration of Companies with licenses, permits and relevant applications– all under one roof.
Investors are chomping at the bit for an opportunity to enter this market in Barbados, with many who have been investing in the real estate and the tourism industry, now expressing their desire to invest in solid projects in the new cannabis industry, as few see a resurgence of investment in the tourism industry for another 3 – 5 years.
Medical marijuana is the future. It offers a chance for the country to create new jobs and lower its debt burden, while increasing its tax revenues. It is time Barbados and the wider Caribbean, take their share of this huge pie.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Felicia J. Persaud is the Founder and CEO of Invest Caribbean, the Us-based global private sector investment agency of the Caribbean. Danielle Corbin is the Executive Chairman of The Ritzury Group, a Barbados-based international project services company with a focus on project design and development, project operations management and investor – client relations. For more information contact ICN and Ritzury at investcaribbeannow.com or theritzurygroup.com