By Felicia J. Persaud & Danielle Corbin
[NEW YORK] – 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 an ideal time. The local Barbados economy, as well as the wider regional Caribbean economy have long been dependent on tourism for its ‘bread and butter’. As a result, they are being hammered, and facing an economic crisis of major proportion.
The national debt of Barbados is now around US $6.35 billion. The International Monetary Fund, (IMF) 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. Tourism arrivals remain at a fraction of normal levels. The 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.
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 for economic diversification with the medical marijuana sector. Especially as the medical marijuana industry globally is set to achieve over 29% CAGR up to 2025. Most importantly, reaching USD 59 Billion, according to Global Market Insights.
Barbados Strategic Location
Barbados is strategically located to the US, Canada and Europe. There is an increase in demand for medical cannabis in these countries. The demand is being driven by increasing requirements for the treatment of various conditions. With the right partners, Barbados can tap into this market share.
It offers Barbados a major solution to its economic woes while allowing it to diversity its economy away from the over dependence on tourism.
The key, however, is ensuring a smooth public, private sector partnership going forth. In addition to a seamless investment environment that includes local entrepreneurs and farmers. Who unfortunately have long been at the forefront of a snubbed and illegal industry.
Leader in the Caribbean
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. Many already have been investing in the real estate and the tourism industry. Now they are expressing their desire to invest in solid projects. Specifically in the new cannabis industry. A few investors 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. As a result, increasing its tax revenues. It is time Barbados and the wider Caribbean, take their share of this huge pie.