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Published: 
Wednesday, May 16, 2018
Mahabir raises legalising medicinal ganja again
Independent Senator Dr Dhanayshar Mahabir makes his point during debate on the Finance (Supplementation and Variation of Appropriation) (Financial Year 2018) Bill, 2018 in the Senate yesterday. PICTURE OFFICE OF THE PARLIAMENT

Independent Senator Dhanayshar Mahabir yesterday again suggested that Government allow the use of medicinal marijuana, noting it can rake in billions of dollars in revenue and help diversify T&T’s economy.

Mahabir put forward the recommendation while delivering his contribution on the Finance and Appropriation Bill in the Senate, as he identified several Canadian-based licensed producers of medical cannabis that were collecting billions in sales annually through the sale of the herb. However, he noted companies trying to do a similar operation here would be in breach of the law since the sale of marijuana is illegal.

Among the top five companies Mahabir listed were Aurora, Aphria, Cronos Group, Med Relief and Canopy Growth, some of which he said were on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

The market capital of these firms, Mahabir said, were generating collectively $15 billion Canadian, which is the equivalent to TT$80 billion—twice our annual revenue.

“As I speak today, there is a deal between Aurora and Med Relief to merge. What do these firms do? These firms put people into profits. Their activity in Trinidad and Tobago would put people in jail. If they operate in Trinidad they would be cutting a jail. They make cannabis…they make marijuana.”

Stating that he had no desire to sample a marijuana joint, Mahabir said Canopy Growth, which had collected $5.5 billion Canadian, was now moving its tentacles into the US.

“You know, Madam President, Canada is a country on the forefront in marijuana cultivation in the world…with three months of the year with sun. And I was told that people in the industry, that they got seeds from was St Vincent. They didn’t tell me about Trinidad.”

Mahabir said he was putting forward his case because there is a growth in the world for medicines.

“And I would like for the Government… as we diversify this economy, let us look not only at the pesticides with neem leaves, but let us look at how we can produce medicines using these products which are now established in Canada and rapidly becoming established in the United States.”

Mahabir said medicinal marijuana can even treat epileptic patients.

He said when the National Oncology Centre, which is being built to treat cancer patients, opens, he hopes that “as a mature society if the doctor says that the medication which is necessary for their well-being…are cannabis-based medication, we are not going to say well, ah, ah, it is illegal in Trinidad and Tobago and compromise the health status of our population.”

The economist said the Canadians have been tapping into this opportunity and “it was about time we step up to the plate” because our oil deals will not last forever.

This was Mahabir’s second call for the legalisation of medical marijuana in the Senate in a matter of weeks. He also made a similar call in March.

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