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Jan 13, 2021

Marijuana Expert Joins Belize’s Great Cannabis Debate

Since taking office in late 2020, the Briceño Administration has moved ahead with the formal introduction of the hemp industry as a viable means of economic growth for Belize.  The ensuing conversation has spawned multiple perspectives, including objection from the religious community.  But there’s a strong argument to put forward, particularly when one looks at what is being done in other countries where legalization has taken place and complete industries have been established around ganja.  Earlier today, Alex Lavin, C.E.O. of Growth Industries, with whom the Government of Belize has entered into consultancy with, weighed in on the economic benefits of the hemp industry. Heres News Fives Isani Cayetano.



Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The great debate on hemp production and the resulting legalization of marijuana has seen politicians, religious leaders, as well as the head of law enforcement, weighing in on the pros and cons of this new growth industry.  From a scientific and commercial perspective, cannabis has much to offer.  While detractors criticize its recreational use, proponents, including CEO Alex Lavin, realize the benefits of producing and consuming cannabis on a large scale.


Alex Lavin

Alex Lavin, C.E.O., Growth Industries

“I believe in the power of this plant, I believe in the economic capabilities of this plant and I really, what I would want nothing more is access in everywhere because if certain countries slow down it also has a trickle effect in the rest of the countries following suit.”


As a country that is interested in hemp production, it means getting a slice of the economic pie for Belize.  It also means standardizing production and quality from the onset.


Alex Lavin

“My main focal point is to be able to create a standard for cannabis that essentially it doesn’t matter if youre in Belize, if youre in South Florida or if youre in Cyprus, youre gonna get the same quality standards that anyone would be able to go and take it.  And from my standpoint being an avid user of medicine, I would be the first one to say that these standards allow for the consumer not to get sick.”


In exploring hemp production, Minister of New Growth Industries Kareem Musa and Alex Lavin, Chief Executive Officer of Growth Industries (U.S.A.), agreed to a consulting program for cannabis development in Belize.


Alex Lavin

“The conversations that I’ve had with Minister Musa is all about standards, accessibility and being able to create job creation because from that we’ll create more jobs and ancillary jobs that would be able to come into Belize.  Belize has, and the reason I keep driving home standards, and I really look forward to kinda giving you a tour of our facility and just ideas that I would put to show Belize that to be able to get this to the next level is if Belize wants to see revenue come into the country so that you can see more things happen, more in education, more in healthcare and things of that nature, youre going to need to create a standard of product that can be exported in the future.”


In the years ahead, marijuana tourism can also attract significant revenue to the country.


Kareem Musa

Kareem Musa, Minister of New Growth Industries

“It is my hope that we would see the benefit of even cannabis tourism in Belize.  Just imagine for one second, the amount of cruise ships, whenever that does return, the cruise ships that come into our harbor, its over a million people a year.  Imagine those people coming off of those ships actually engaging in cannabis tourism, the amount of revenue that can be generated for Belize.”


Expanding Belize’s tourism offering to include recreational consumption of marijuana is also in line with Lavin’s vision for industry growth.


Alex Lavin

“I think there should also be a driving force for the tourism crowd because remember, people are coming to Belize to relax.  Whats the first thing you guys do on the weekend when its time to relax?  So in my opinion, I think the acceptability of being able to have an identification card that tourists pay a different fee than let’s say Belizeans.  Belizeans should not pay anything to buy Belizean product, but I feel that tourists that come there one hundred percent should get a fee that gets associated with it and thats guaranteed revenue that comes into the country by issuing this card.”


The perspective shared by Lavin whose expertise is in cannabis cultivation and production is only the tip of the iceberg in exploring the possibilities hemp and marijuana. Reporting for news five, I am Isani Cayetano.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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