The business community and the University of The Bahamas (UB) have taken the first step in ensuring that the small business community does not miss out on potential opportunities the liberalization of cannabis could bring, by holding a meeting on Thursday last week to discuss research that will lead to policy and economic opportunities.
Executive Director of the Access Accelerator/Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) Davinia Grant told Guardian Business on Thursday that the meeting was the beginning of a research phase that will lead to a decision on the cannabis industry for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), so that if and when the industry is opened up to investment, entrepreneurs will not be left behind.
The meeting included representatives from UB, the SBDC and the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation (BCCEC).
“There was a level of enthusiasm from the three partners to ensure that industries are created, that we protect space for MSMEs and we have a level of forethought on their behalf, so that they’re not trying to catch up afterwards and beg their way into access to that industry,” Grant said.
She explained that part of the process moving forward will be to explore what the potential size of the industry could be by looking at other economies – especially in the Caribbean – that have opened up their markets to the sale of cannabis products.
According to Grant, UB is already far ahead in terms of its research on cannabis in general, cannabis strains and growth processes, adding that she was “pleasantly surprised” by UB’s progress.
She said demystifying the potential size of the cannabis industry for The Bahamas will also be a big step towards opening it up to the wider economy.
“There is a lot of thought about what is the potential size of that industry and I don’t think research has been done yet to quantify it,” said Grant.
“That’s really our first step, to look at the potential value chain and include some creative concepts we think some of our entrepreneurs would want to venture into.”
She said the next steps would be to explore what policies, exemptions and incentives could be put in place to ensure “MSME’s are given time to grow into the industry”.
“We want to be able to present the relevant stakeholders with our position on policy for MSMEs in this area,” Grant said.