The regulations for the importation, cultivation, processing and export of medical cannabis and industrial hemp in Vanuatu were officially signed Wednesday.
A person or business wanting to legally cultivate cannabis and hemp for medical and industrial purposes in Vanuatu can apply to get a licence once the regulations are enforced, after they are published in the government gazette.
The regulations provide licence holders standards required for import, cultivation, harvest, production and export.
Also, licence holders must obtain a licence to allow them to operate, and are required to submit a variety of documents to accompany their applications, such as evidence of bank statement, proof of at least 10-years of experience, a business plan, proof of possession of site and a copy of a land lease.
Under the Medical Cannabis and Industrial Hemp Act, licence holders are required to pay an annual licence fee of VT10 million (US$85,341) each licence issued would have an operational period of 10 years.
The Act allows for the operation of at least two medical cannabis licences and at least three industrial hemp licences.
According to the Director General (DG) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity (MALFFB), the regulations currently limit the cultivation and production of industrial hemp to only five islands being Efate, Santo, Malekula, Tanna and Erromango while medical cannabis is limited to only Efate, Santo and Malekula.
DG Moses Amos is also the Chairman of the Medical Cannabis and Industrial Hemp Advisory Committee. He said the number of licences could increase once the government fully understands how the business works.
He said it took them almost a year to complete the regulations since cannabis is a risky business, thus they have to ensure it (the regulation) takes into consideration the potential risks and challenges of the industry.
Members of the Medical Cannabis and Industrial Hemp Advisory Committee comprise eight members: the DG and the First Political Advisor of the Prime Ministers Office, DG of Finance, DG of Internal Affairs, DG of Trades, DG of Health, Police Commissioner including DG Amos.
Upon signing the regulations yesterday, MALFFB Minister Nako Natuman acknowledged the Advisory Committee and the State Law Office for their commitment to finalising the regulations. DG Amos announced Wednesday that an independent unit will be established to prepare the licence applications for the Advisory Committee.