The Government has moved one step closer to developing a hemp industry as the much anticipated Industrial Hemp Bill of 2022 has been tabled in the National Assembly for the first time. The Industrial Hemp Bill of 2022 was presented by the Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha on Tuesday at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre.
Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha who presented the bill to house explained “A bill intituled an act for the cultivating and manufacturing of industrial hemp and hemp related products to provide for the conducting of research on industrial hemp or any other activity concerning or relating to industrial hemp.” With the passage of this bill, it will allow industrial hemp to be removed as a narcotic under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substance (Control) Act. The bill proposes the establishment of a Guyana Industrial Hemp Regulatory Authority, which will be appointed by the Minister of Agriculture and include nominees from the Ministries of Health, and Home Affairs, the Guyana Forensic Science Laboratory, Private Sector Commission, and two other persons deemed fit by the Minister.
The regulatory body will be responsible for the granting, suspending or revoking of licences in compliance with the act. They will also be responsible for entering into agreements for the development of the industry. The body in collaboration with the Customs Anti-Narcotic Unit to monitor, supervise, and control the industrial hemp or hemp related products to ensure compliance. The Bill provides for three types of licences, which include; a cultivation licence, a manufacturing licence and a licence to conduct research on industrial hemp. If an individual does not have either one of these licenses but is involved in any one of these sectors they will be fined $500,000 or be imprisoned for one year. Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo during a recent outreach said once this legislation is passed, licences will be issued to farmers to cultivate hemp in Region Six and Region 10 which is intended to address unemployment in these areas. The Bill grants the Minister of Agriculture the power to designate locations for the cultivation or manufacturing of industrial hemp or hemp related products.