LET TALKS BEGIN!
Is This The New Green Gold?
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.