Our island, like so many others in the Caribbean, is home to a rich diversity of flora and fauna. Many of the plants found in Saint Lucia have for generations been part of our natural pharmacopeia and have been used by our elders and fore-parents to treat a wide variety of ailments.
Increasingly, there is a global movement that promotes the use of natural, organic products to achieve good health and wellness. The socio-economic potential of our local medicinal herbs is tremendous and under-exploited. The nutraceutical industry is one of the fastest growing industries globally. The success of stores like Holland and Barrett and Whole Foods is testimony to the strength of this industry.
We strongly support and encourage the conduct of research into the health and wellness-promoting properties of our local medicinal herbs. This should be pursued in conjunction with the University of the West Indies and other interested organizations.
The development of a local nutraceutical industry should be encouraged and supported. Medicinal herbs are short-term crops that can help to diversify our agriculture sector and provide a consistent source of income for our farmers. This will help to reinvigorate the agricultural sector and provide a much needed stimulus to our rural economies.
Legislation should be enacted for the immediate decriminalization of marijuana. This would be the first step toward the development of a medicinal marijuana industry that explores and takes advantage of the potential of the use of marijuana to treat various ailments.