Guyana approves legislation allowing hemp cultivation

After lobbying the two previous administrations to permit it, Guyana’s parliament this week finally approved legislation allowing local farmers to grow industrial hemp. Cultivation will begin later this year in southeastern Berbice Region near Suriname, as well as in Linden Town 65 miles south of the city which once thrived when bauxite production was economic king.

Authorities say licensed farmers in these two districts are being given the first shot at growing hemp because both have experienced declining economic fortunes in recent decades. Berbice is famous for growing rice, sugar and vegetables, but the closure of some of the county’s estates and the under performing of others meant that it was an obvious choice along with Linden where bauxite is no longer the sector around which life revolves.The previous David Granger administration had dithered on granting approvals fearing that the plant, an extremely close relation to marijuana, could be abused by farmers and others for illicit purposes.But strong lobbying of the current administration has resulted in parliamentary approval with the first set of licenses being prepared for issuance, officials said.

Officials argue that hemp farming could help with economic diversification.Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha argued in parliament that hemp cultivation could encourage illegal marijuana growers to switch legally to hemp and make money while deviating from criminal the country.“While we are setting up this legislation, at the same time, we are encouraging people to deviate from crime. Hemp production in Guyana is a win, win situation for all the players involved."

"For the grower, it will be a source of income generation and job creation. For the consumers, it would have significant benefits, and for the broader economy, it would be a valuable source of foreign exchange, especially in the context of economic diversification,” the minister said. Persons cultivating hemp without permits will be fined $2,500 or jailed for a year.

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