Lennox Linton addresses a press conference  on Friday May 26 2017
Lennox Linton addresses a press conference on Friday May 26 2017

Herb, Hemp, Marijuana, Cannabis, Ganja, Jive, Joint, Mary Jane, Weed, Righteous Bush, Dope.

By whatever name, there are hundreds, that this controversial plant is labeled, it should fit nicely into the basket of products from the Nature Island of the Caribbean.

That's what Leader of the Opposition Lennox Linton told parliament last week as he responded to the 2018/2019 national budget presented earlier by Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit.

And, cannabis, Linton's preferred name for the multi-named plant, could "set the stage to earn hundreds of millions of dollars annually from the export of these commodities and the health and wellness products that can be manufactured from them".

Linton added that hemp, because of its versatility could provide food , clothing, jobs and shelter and is " the greatest growth prospects for our Nature Island economy."

"There is therefore an urgent need for Dominica to consider and come to terms with the issues involved in humanizing, legalizing and industrializing cannabis in the interest of national health, wellness, and resilient economic development," Linton said.

In his budget address Prime Minister Skerrit said the government will organise discussions with the public on the issue of commercialization and decriminalizing ganja. A task force will be appointed to coordinate that discussion.

But Linton believes that's too little too slow.

"The Prime Minister continues to fall further and further behind regional leaders on another important socio-economic issue with massive nature island development implications" Linton said.

He added that the United Workers Party (UWP) is "currently working on an inventory of cannabis varieties in Dominica to be tested for their medicinal content."

Linton said the UWP has recognized the members of the Rastafari Movement have made tremendous contribution to the on-going acceptance of the plant, at a very high cost.

"That Rastafari has stood alone in the defense of a plant and thereby, in defense of the natural systems that comprise our environment. So, we too extend our respect for our Caribbean Rastafari brothers and sisters, who have so stridently, stoically and knowingly stood up for plants everywhere," Linton said.

Linton said the UWP will "take a holistic approach to building a viable cannabis industry" if it becomes the government; the UWP will also "ensure no interest group is left behind in sharing the health, wellness and economic development benefits".

He continued: "We believe Dominica must get on board now to take advantage of the increasing opportunities for job creation, foreign exchange earnings and a wealthier nation.

"In addition, the availability and affordability of cannabis-based medicinal and wellness products will significantly reduce the incidence of non-communicable diseases and thereby lead to a healthier nation.

"A share of the global cannabis industry can deliver the lift we desperately need for the rural economy and strong livelihood restoration Post Maria. As such, our Agenda for Change will have the legalization of cannabis with strict regulations to protect our children as a pillar to revive the vital agricultural sector in Dominica and as a fundamental part of the overall strategy for economic resilience".