The first week of May 2022, yielded two firsts in SVG; on Monday May 02, Emergency Communications First Responders (EFR’s) staged a communications readiness/fitness test from the four highest hills in SVG viz: La Soufriere, “Ma Peggy” in Bequia, Mt. Royal in Canouan and Mt. Taboi in Union Island ; and starting the first weekend in May on a much mellower tone was the official launch of the “Greenhouse Café”, the first Cannabis Consumption lounge in the Caribbean, providing an up market environment for ‘patients’ to benefit from the therapeutic effect of cannabis and cannabis products.
As fate would have it, I was part of the first activity being part of the team climbing Mt. Taboi and on Friday, May 06, I was able to witness first hand a ‘soft’ opening of the “Greenhouse Café” located on the premises of the Coconut Grove Beach Club; what is expected to be a very profitable business, once managed properly. I see this new beginning as the catalyst for similar business ventures but in entirely different settings, throughout our country. Medical Tourism is now set to take off!
I welcome this venture having written a four part series of articles in the local press since 2000, titled “Looking at Ganja positively”. One article dealt with the Religious aspect of the herb, another the Economic value of the herb, yet another about the Medical benefits of the herb and the Recreational value of ganja including a public education program. So 22 years later, while this launch is a positive move, I am still advocating for the total legalization of the herb, albeit with a companion public awareness program. There is still a lot of myth about ganja sending people crazy and this ‘bad blame’ on the herb has to be dispelled once and for all if possible, by persons in the medical field who know about the endocannabinoid system in the human body, and how the ganja plant can supplant any endocannabinoid deficiencies.
So just as when you have a vitamin deficiency you take Vitamin supplements, similarly when your body starts reacting to stress, or from the side effects of chemotherapy and you lose appetite, feel depressed or suffer pain, the good compounds in the marijuana plant helps to regulate those feelings and urges. As a new controlled industry and because one’s health is at stake, the highest quality must go into the production of the plants, to ensure that ‘patients’ receive a product of superior quality and effectiveness.
Getting back to the launch of our “Top end Coffee shop”. The top brass of the Cannabis Authority including Dr. Jerrol Thompson and Dr. Jean Cummings were seen mingling with the crowd while Minister of Agriculture was being interviewed by IWN. The Minister of Finance was also in attendance and arrived just about when I was leaving so I am not certain if he made any public announcements. The Manager of the Greenhouse Café, Tessa Glass was very accommodating to her having been introduced to her by Dr. Francois Truchot.
There were three medical doctors on hand to listen to the medical requirements of their patients making a record of their conditions as a standard procedure. Once a prescription was written the next stage was to have your ID produced, which allows bearers to have 5 grams of medical cannabis without any intervention from law enforcement. The ID’s were produced on the spot and within five minutes ‘patients’ were provided with their own ID and therefore now qualify to purchase cannabis products from any authorized pharmacy/seller in the state.
While this historic occasion is lauded as progressive, I am still advocating for the total decriminalization of the herb. There are still persons in jail for ganja, these charges must be dropped, the law abandoned and on prisoners ‘ganja charges only’ be freed. And as I wrote less than two years ago, medical cannabis must also be provided for warders and inmates. Jail is hell on earth, where stress levels can reach roof height daily. The herb will help the majority who use it and not abuse it.
In closing, I must say that the ambience of the Green House Café is very pleasing, aesthetic and airy, thanks to Janqui Glass and cohorts. Each person who got an ID was presented with a take away bag which included and locally made coconut shell ash tray, a cutting tray, a pack of RAW smoking paper, but NO nuggets of herb to signal the start of a business that will literally rise like smoke. And finally on a much lighter note, maybe I left too early, but I was expecting to savor the delightful terpenes from locally produced herb, … maybe when a sampling evening is organized, I will be invited.
Contributed by: Donald De Riggs.