Naboutini Village, Serua - [28/09/23] - Fiji's heavy reliance on tourism became evident when the industry suffered a severe setback, significantly impacting the nation's economy. In response to this vulnerability, Government is actively seeking alternative sources of revenue.
During a talanoa session held in Naboutini Village, Serua, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, Co-operatives, Small and Medium Enterprises, and Communications, Honorable Manoa Kamikamica, discussed the government's plan to explore the cultivation of medicinal marijuana.
Addressing the community, Hon. Kamikamica emphasized the urgent need for economic diversification, especially in the face of challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic on the tourism industry.
"Relying solely on tourism is not sustainable for our economy. We must explore new avenues for generating income and diversifying our economy," stated Hon. Kamikamica. "One promising area we are considering is the cultivation of medicinal cannabis. However, I want to make it clear: this does not mean marijuana is legal in Fiji."
The Deputy Prime Minister stressed that any potential cultivation would take place in controlled environments, ensuring limited access and strict adherence to regulations. The government's initiative does not support recreational marijuana use; rather, it aims to tap into the economic potential of medicinal cannabis, a thriving global industry estimated at USD 30 billion in turnover.
"It's essential to understand that this endeavor will be closely regulated and confined to secure facilities. There will be no local sales or marketing; instead, the products will be harvested, processed, and exported," clarified Hon. Kamikamica.
The government's initiative has already attracted interest from major pharmaceutical companies, with two conglomerates expressing their intent to establish operations in Fiji. 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.
The medicinal benefits of cannabis are 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, 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," stated Hon. Kamikamica.
To ensure transparency and gather public input, Government will conduct consultations nationwide. These discussions will enable citizens to express their opinions, concerns, and suggestions, shaping the future of medicinal cannabis in Fiji.
Government remains committed to responsible and regulated practices, prioritizing the well-being of its citizens while striving for economic resilience and innovation in this groundbreaking endeavor.