Opinion: Joint ventures (Marijuana Tourism)

POSTED: 09/13/14 11:37 PM

There has been a lot of talk over the years in St. Maarten about diversifying the economy. That soon turned to diversifying the tourism industry. Terms like sports tourism and medical tourism became household expressions that have one thing in common: so far, it has only been talk. Now the Caribbean Tourism Organization is throwing another bone into the same arena. It’s called marijuana tourism.

Jamaica is in the thick of things here. Richard Kildare is the deputy chief executive officer of the country’s first medical marijuana company – and he will lead the debate when the CTO convenes in the US Virgin Islands next week.

While St. Maarten so far has simply ignored regional and international developments – like the legalization of marijuana in two American states, and the possibility to grow, sell and consume the soft drug freely and legally in Uruguay, the CTO has picked up on the issue because it acknowledges the trend.

The Jamaica Observer reported that after Colorado legalized smoking pot at the beginning of this year, there have been several reports about a boom in arrivals from within and outside of the United States.

Hugh Riley, the Secretary General of the CTO looks pragmatically at this issue. “The Caribbean has an interest in this subject, the Caribbean has an interest in attracting visitors to our shores, and so medical tourism, including the discussion about marijuana, is going to be one of the parts of the debate that we have,” he was quoted as saying in the Observer.

Riley added for good measure – almost as a message to St. Maarten – that it is not possible to pretend that marijuana does not exist and that the rest of the world is not talking about it.

That is exactly the situation here at home: Justice Minister Dennis Richardson said in early August that the country is not in the process of preparing any law to legalize marijuana. No politician has ever made an issue of it before or after this statement.

The Jamaica Observer concluded its article with this remarkable line: “The CTO said that apart from the debate on marijuana tourism the three-day event will also examine a number of provocative issues confronting the regional tourism sector.”

What does that tell you? The Jamaicans take the marijuana-debate in stride and they do not consider it to be controversial. The CTO in the meantime, goes on the offensive with the theme for its three-day conference: “Realizing the vision: positioning Caribbean tourism for major change.”

We figure it is about time St. Maarten jumped on the bandwagon. There are interesting joint ventures on the horizon.

 

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