Fiji may be the first Pacific nation to legalise marijuana for industrial purposes.
The Fijian government has been considering the idea of industrial hemp and it looks like this will be done with proposed changes to its Illicit Drugs Control Act 2004 to pave the way for the establishment of the industrial hemp export industry in Fiji.
Marijuana cultivation is rife in Fiji however the current aim is to create an economic opportunity to export industrial hemp, resulting in replacing fields of illegal marijuana with industrial hemp.
The THC or tetrahydrocannabinol levels in industrial hemp are very low therefore restricting recreational use.
Fiji’s minister for economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said they were working closely with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to set the policies in order and also arrange for initial seeds to be brought to Fiji.
He said the use of industrial hemp had many applications which included pharmaceutical, textile and even in the construction sector, adding that the policies will be a driving a factor to change the misconception people have about industrial hemp.
“Once we have that in-hand, we will distribute those seeds to the farms,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.
“We plan to source these seeds from Canada. Industrial Hemp is a lucrative and largely untapped resource in the global economy due to misconceptions about what it really is.”
There are skeptics who just see this as an opportunity to farm narcotics in the guise of agriculture however the assurance has been that the legal framework that would allow for the planting of industrial hemp would ensure that this does not happen.
ANZ Bank Country Head, Rabih Yazbek said maintaining tight controls on exactly what is being produced in the industrial hemp industry is important to ensure Fiji maintains its reputation as a premium holiday destination.
He said he is excited for the brand new industry the government has decided to throw its weight behind.
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“When it comes to diversification, we have to aim at sectors where there is a natural competitive advantage and Fiji has arable land when it comes to growing a crop like hemp,” he said.
For decades the Fiji Police Force has been raiding farms however this hasn’t stopped the cultivation of marijuana in Fiji.
Villages in the marijuana production areas have been thriving as a result of marijuana cultivation and distribution.
Marijuana as a narcotic is readily available in Fiji and millions of dollars are made annually. The Fijian Government is hoping to cash in on the industry with the hope that industrial hemp could replace the many other varieties of cannabis found in Fiji.