St. Lucia’s Minister of Commerce and Investment, Bradley Felix, has recently announced the government will be drafting legislation to legalize adult-use cannabis throughout the island nation. The declaration entered St. Lucia into the race to become the first Caribbean country to fully legalize cannabis. Two others on that list are the U.S. Virgin Islands and Bermuda.
In his announcement, Minister Felix cited a recent government poll which found 73 percent of respondents in favor of the establishment of a domestic cannabis industry. These numbers were up from a 2018 study where only 51% supported the idea.
The St. Lucian industry would include legal cultivation, processing, and exports, and is expected to provide significant benefits to the island’s tourism-driven economy. Felix said the positive public feedback toward this initiative played a major role in the decision to move forward.
The Minister also stated he has been granted permission to examine the process of criminal record expungement for people charged and convicted with possession of no more than 30 grams of cannabis.
Earlier in July, the island of Bermuda also held consultations regarding an adult-use bill that was drafted in June. If successful, the legislation would trigger the creation of a licensing system that would allow for a commercial cannabis cultivation sector and retail sales to people 21 years or older.
The law is a significant shift for the island nation from the previous one drafted in 2019 to establish a medical cannabis industry. The pivot is a result of the need for economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Finally, back in May, the U.S. Virgin Islands redrafted a previous 2019 bill that would allow adults to use recreational cannabis provided they have a permit. Permit holders would not be able to cultivate cannabis but could buy products in retail dispensaries that would be made available.
In a June hearing, several USVI government agencies testified in favor of recreational cannabis, including the Department of Agriculture, Health, and Consumer Affairs.