President Dr Irfaan Ali on Thursday conducted an outreach at Baracara along the Canje Creek, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) where he told residents of the multiple opportunities that would become available with the recent passage of the hemp legislation.
According to the Head of State, there is a need to educate the population on the returns that the hemp industry produces.
“We have passed the Hemp Bill in Parliament and this now advances the opportunity to use hemp. Because hemp is a future crop; it is a crop that is important for pharmaceuticals, for the construction industry, and the research is continuing. There is a multi-layer of possibilities, fabric and everything,” he stated.
To this end, President Ali further said to the residents of Baracara and surrounding communities along the Canje Creek that he wants to tap into their cultivation skills to establish a viable hemp industry here.
“So, we are going to come back in this community and we will have a closed-door meeting with all these people here. I want a closed-door meeting with all those people who are planting things that they have to hide and do because it’s against the law.”
“Some people show that they have tremendous ability in getting high yields and high production. We just have to use that existing knowledge in an area that will be within the boundaries of the law and will give you the type of return that will help you to uplift your community and family,” the President stated.
On Monday, the National Assembly passed the hemp legislation, which now paves the way for the cultivating and manufacturing of industrial hemp and hemp-related products; and conducting of research on industrial hemp or any other activity concerning industrial hemp.
It further provides for the establishment of a Guyana Industrial Hemp Regulatory Authority.
Hemp is a botanical class of Cannabis sativa cultivars grown specifically for industrial or medicinal use.
Under the new legislation, a person shall not cultivate or manufacture hemp or hemp-related products; or conduct research or any other activity related to industrial hemp without a licence issued by the authority under the Act. In the case of a violation, a person is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $500,000 or imprisonment for one year.
The framework states, “The Board shall consider the impact on public health, safety, security, commerce and agriculture and need for the orderly development of the sector including exclusivity when considering an application for the issuance of a licence under this Act.”
After the licence is granted, a person is not allowed to plant any seed or plant; or harvest any cannabis plant before a sample of the seed or plant is analysed by an analyst to ascertain whether it confirms with the allowed tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration.
President Ali has long been pushing to decriminalise hemp production and labelling it as a viable industry. In fact, he had previously argued that the industry is not only about hemp production but having the processing and value-added facilities here in Guyana.
To this end, Government had floated the idea of leasing lands in Regions Six and 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) to persons for hemp cultivation.
Hemp is a multibillion-dollar industry which can lend to the production of hundreds of items. While hemp does contain THC, advocates have argued that this is in very low amounts, below 0.3 per cent, which is too low to be psychoactive.
In Guyana, the THC level needs to be below 0.3 per cent for it to be considered legal.
Hemp is a source of fibre and the oilseed is grown in more than 30 nations. Some uses for hemp include rope, textiles, clothing, shoes, food, paper, bioplastics, insulation, and biofuel. It is rich in protein, unsaturated fats, fibre, minerals and vitamins. Hemp protects the brain, boosts heart health, reduces inflammation, improves skin conditions and relieves rheumatoid arthritis.
Hemp seeds are particularly rich in healthy fats, including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that are known for improving heart health by reducing cholesterol, blood pressure, and triglycerides.