LET TALKS BE­GIN!

Is This The New Green Gold?

The Star (St. Lucia) - - FRONT PAGE -

The Sea­sonal Agri­cul­ture Work­ers Pro­gram af­fords Saint Lu­cians and other Caribbean farm­ers the op­por­tu­nity to work on farms in Canada. This year's re­view of the pro­gramme took place last week at the Har­bor Club in Rod­ney Bay, and was de­scribed by Labour Min­is­ter Stephen­son King as a suc­cess.

One is­sue raised at the event cen­tred on Saint Lu­cians legally em­ployed on mar­i­juana farms in Canada, where re­cently the posses­sion and use of recre­ational cannabis was le­gal­ized. Mr. King ac­knowl­edged that cannabis use is on the rise and that there are farms which are mov­ing away from other crops into cannabis.

He of­fered the ex­am­ple of a farm in Toronto which, in the next two years, will be ex­pand­ing by one mil­lion square feet into mar­i­juana, cit­ing this as an in­di­ca­tion of the speed at which the in­dus­try is grow­ing.

"The is­sues to be con­sid­ered are whether work­ers from Saint Lu­cia and the Caribbean en­gaged in the mar­i­juana farms can now trans­fer their earn­ings to Saint Lu­cia with­out be­ing clas­si­fied as pro­ceeds of crime,” Mr. King ex­plained.

He in­di­cated that there are al­ready Saint Lu­cians and Gre­na­di­ans work­ing on those farms and the con­cern is “whether there will be any vi­o­la­tion of ex­ist­ing leg­is­la­tion as far as [cov­ers] the en­gage­ment of re­gional work­ers on the mar­i­juana farms.”

He said that there is an ac­tive dis­cus­sion among many gov­ern­ments, in­clud­ing Saint Lu­cia, and that it is a re­al­ity which must be dealt with as it is “hit­ting us head on".

Mr. King re­vealed that there is on­go­ing con­ver­sa­tion within the Cab­i­net and the is­sue will soon be ad­dressed. “How do you clas­sify an ac­tiv­ity that is le­gal in one ju­ris­dic­tion, and then turn it around and re­clas­sify it in the other state?" He said that this is a con­flict which will be re­solved.

Saint Lu­cia's Pro­ceeds of Crime Act refers to: “Any prop­erty or ben­e­fits de­rived, ob­tained or re­al­ized, di­rectly or in­di­rectly, by any per­son from any act or omis­sion that oc­curred out­side of Saint Lu­cia, and would, if it had oc­curred in Saint Lu­cia, have con­sti­tuted a sched­uled of­fence.”

Does money from the le­gal cul­ti­va­tion of mar­i­juana in Canada au­to­mat­i­cally be­come dirty money if brought into Saint Lu­cia where all things mar­i­juana are il­le­gal? Does this mean our Pro­ceeds of Crime Act autho­rizes lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to seize any prop­erty linked with mar­i­juana cul­ti­va­tion here or else­where, re­gard­less of the cir­cum­stances? In Oc­to­ber the 1st Na­tional Bank raised this con­cern at an ed­u­ca­tion fo­rum dubbed “Bank­ing and the Mar­i­juana In­dus­try”. The bank's rep­re­sen­ta­tives re­vealed that due to ex­ist­ing lo­cal laws they are un­able legally to ac­cept any funds deemed to be pro­ceeds of crime—in­clud­ing money earned from mar­i­juana pro­duc­tion in Canada. Dur­ing an ap­pear­ance on Tim­o­thy Poleon's

News­maker Live pro­gramme on Wed­nes­day, the chair­man of Saint Lu­cia's Cannabis Move­ment, An­dre DeCaires spec­u­lated it would take any­where from six to eight months to make the changes nec­es­sary to re­verse the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion.

Al­though le­gal in places overseas, changes in lo­cal laws will be needed to bring in money de­rived from mar­i­juana cul­ti­va­tion.

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