BELIZE CITY, Wed. Dec. 30, 2020– The Minister of New Growth Industries, Hon. Kareem Musa, reignited the cannabis legalization conversation in Belize on December 30 during an interview with local media.
Musa announced that his Ministry has agreed to partner with Alex Lavin, the president of a US-based company named Growth Industries. Lavin has been chosen as the consultant to develop the cannabis industry in Belize, and to tie that industry with the tourism industry.
In his interview, Musa said, “by the middle of January to the ending of January, we will be having our first virtual Zoom with stakeholders, businesspeople, other consultants, with other experts, so to speak, who want to get into this particular industry, who want to develop this policy.
“Once that policy can be developed and can be agreed upon by all, at least a majority, we can then take that policy to Cabinet and thereafter take that policy to the House in the form of legislation. It is my hope that we would see the benefit of even cannabis tourism in Belize.”
“Just imagine for one second, the amount of cruise ships, whenever that returns, the cruise ships that come into our harbor, it’s over a million people a year. Imagine those people coming off of those ships actually engaging in cannabis tourism, the amount of revenue that can be generated for Belize,” Musa went on to say,
“And so, we have to find ways to make this not just a productive sector that can generate revenue for the country, but also an industry that could provide jobs for all of the people who have been affected by this cannabis industry in the past,” he said.
In Belize, thousands of citizens have been negatively affected by the informal cannabis industry. Besides being a driver for bitter turf wars, it has also landed many non-violent and mostly law-abiding citizens behind bars for months.
As Minister Musa pointed out, the cannabis laws in Belize, are “usual”. While the law provides for one to have possession of up to 10 grams of cannabis, it is illegal to sell and purchase the product; also, cultivation is completely restricted. The amendment made to the Misuse of Drugs Act thus opened the door for recreational use of cannabis, but failed to provide a legal vendor and, in turn, a way for the country to generate revenue.
The Ministry of New Growth Industries has been tasked by Prime Minister Briceño with formulating new policies and moving forward amendments to the existing cannabis laws in order to set the stage for the roll-out of the cannabis industry in Belize.
Musa said, “We have a runaway train, really, but at the same time, we have a blank canvas when it comes to cannabis, because we have not started it yet. Yes, it is practiced and smoked recreationally, up to ten grams in Belize, but at the same time, the law makes no sense, and it makes no benefit for Belizeans the way it’s currently structured.”
Back in October of 2018, Opposition Leader, now Prime Minister, Hon. John Briceño called for the full legalization of cannabis in Belize and the creation of an inclusive industry surrounding the highly sought after commodity. This demand came a year after the Barrow administration decriminalized the possession of 10 grams of marijuana for recreational use and legalized the cultivation of industrial hemp.
An article published on golocalprov.com, a local publication in Rhode Island, stated that Alex Lavin, Belize’s new top Cannabis consultant, believes that the industry can generate between $200-$400 million in revenue for the country. According to Musa, virtual discussions with stakeholders and interested parties are scheduled to commence by mid-January via Zoom.