Fiji to tap into multibillion dollar medicinal cannabis industry; recreational use still illegal

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Deputy Prime Minister Manoa Kamikamica. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU/FT FILE

Fiji is considering tapping into the thriving global multibillion dollar medicinal cannabis industry.

While the Government backed this “groundbreaking endeavor” as an exploration for new avenues of economic innovation – noting the consideration for cultivation as “one promising area” – made it clear the proposed diversification initiative did not mean legalising recreational use of the herbal drug.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, Co-operatives, Small and Medium Enterprises, and Communications Manoa Kamikamica elaborated on this Government’s ambition during a talanoa session at Naboutini Village in Serua last week – an aim to tap into the economic potential of the industry with an estimated turnover of US$30billion (approximately FJD$68bn).

He said any potential cultivation would take place in controlled environments to ensure limited access and strict adherence to regulations.

“It’s essential to understand that this endeavor will be closely regulated and confined to secure facilities,” Mr Kamikamica was quoted as saying in a Government statement.

“There will be no local sales or marketing; instead, the products will be harvested, processed, and exported.”

The Deputy PM also revealed that the proposed initiative had already attracted interest from major pharmaceutical companies.

He said two conglomerates had expressed intent to establish operations in the country.

“One of these companies is not only interested in medicinal cannabis but also in exploring the potential of traditional Fijian medicine, known as ‘wai vaka Viti‘ for international markets.”

Mr Kamikamica said the medicinal benefits of cannabis were well-documented.

“Certain strains have proven effective in managing seizures, providing hope for patients with conditions like Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

“Additionally, medical cannabis can alleviate symptoms associated with PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder), offering relief from flashbacks, nightmares, and anxiety.

“This initiative goes beyond just generating income; it’s an opportunity to create jobs, strengthen our economy, and potentially enhance the lives of those in need.”

A nationwide consultation will be conducted to gather public input, an opportunity for members of the public to express their opinions, concerns, and suggestions, that could shape the future of medicinal cannabis in Fiji.

On August 29 this year, the Coalition Cabinet agreed to a feasibility study for the emerging medicinal cannabis market in the country.

A taskforce will be set up that Mr Kamikamica will chair.

Related article:

Fiji begins work to explore growing industrial hemp

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