Samoa Minister says no to ‘marijuana export’

Samoan Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries is opposed to any moves to promote the medicinal use of marijuana, saying it will not happen any time.

The views of La’aulialemalietoa Polataivao Schmidt were sought on Tuesday as a number of Pacific Island nations are now considering the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

He told the Samoa Observer that no policy will be formulated any time soon to enable the export of marijuana abroad for medicinal use. 

“We can’t implement that or do that right now,” said La’aulialemalietoa. “Of course, we know there is a great medicinal benefit proven by overseas countries. 

“But there is a huge amount of work we need to carry out and work our minds around it because other countries are saying it has a good medicinal use but the way we use it here in Samoa is not good.

“We categorise it as a narcotic despite other countries categorising it as a medical drug. But I understand that maybe we might be able to do it any other time in the future, despite the evidence because we should be careful because that’s the not-so-good part we also should be looking at.”

Cannabis in the Cook Islands is illegal for recreational purposes and a non-binding referendum to legalise it for medicinal purposes was passed in 2022 with 62 per cent voting “yes” but the necessary legislation is yet to be enacted.

In Fiji, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on tourism inspired the government to consider alternative sources of revenue.

During a talanoa session held in Naboutini Village, Serua, Fiji’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, Co-operatives, Small and Medium Enterprises and Communications, Manoa Kamikamica discussed the government’s plan to explore the cultivation of medicinal marijuana.

He emphasised 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,” said 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.” He added that any potential cultivation would take place in controlled environments, ensuring limited access and strict adherence to regulations.