In about three weeks’ time, the Briceno Administration will mark its first year in office. The Ministry responsible for new growth industries, headed by Kareem Musa, has been focused on establishing private-public partnerships business and ways to grow the local economy. Minister Musa says that so far they’ve been focused on constructing a foundation for Belize’s cannabis industry.
Kareem Musa, Minister of New Growth Industries: “The Ministry of New Growth Industries is an entirely new ministry. We don’t have much of a budget but it’s a very important ministry because it is geared toward attracting more PPBs meaning private public partnership businesses in the country and that is something that we’ve been working towards. As you know there’s the cannabis industry which has turned around the entire economy of some of the states in the United States of America, California, Colorado those are two of the jurisdictions where you can see the economy has skyrocketed in billions of dollars and as well crime has gone down and so we can see where that benefit is economically especially the benefit of us here in Belize how we can employ that to ensure that we have that benefit as well economically here in the country. I’ve had several consultations. I’ve consulted with the Chamber of Commerce, with the churches, we’ve had consultation with the Bishops as well as the Belize Medical and Dental Association and the opposition and so we’ve done actually a lot of changes to the original act. We’ve changed the age for qualifying for the card from eighteen to twenty one that was on the advice of the Belize Medical and Dental Association. The opposition actually made the point that how can we request someone who is applying for one of the licenses to submit a criminal record and if that criminal record pertains to a cannabis conviction for possession how should that affect them because we’re now moving to regulate this industry. And so that point was considered and appreciated so we adjusted the law to provide a proviso that if you do have a cannabis conviction – cannabis related conviction- that won’t affect your chances of applying for one of the licenses. So these are the types of changes and adjustments that we’ve seen and at next week Monday’s House meeting it will be presented for it’s second and third reading . So that’s just on the front of cannabis.”