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Guyana Chronicle: Guyana Hemp Association petitions Parliament

"GUYANA Hemp Association (GHA) President, Turhane Doerga on Thursday handed over a petition to Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherod Isaacs seeking the legalisation of hemp in Guyana.According to Doerga, only the lack of awareness of the differences between hemp and marijuana would see any objections to the cultivation of industrial hemp in Guyana.

Highlighting the benefits of the plant, Doerga, reminded that marijuana and hemp are not the same plant, and it is only an absence of knowledge of the hemp plant that would cause any Guyanese to fear or object to its legalisation.

“The fear is not a genuine fear. It’s not that the people want to go against it, they just don’t know that it isn’t marijuana,” Doerga said as he submitted the petition, which included over 200 signatures.

Before an audience of some 30 eager members of the GHA, Doerga contended that the hemp industry is a proverbial gold mine just waiting to be explored, and Guyana’s agricultural conditions are just ripe for this industry to take flight.

But right now, there is one impediment: hemp is illegal in Guyana.

Hemp and marijuana are both plants of the Cannabis sativa plant species, and though they look very similar, their chemical make ups are different.

It all has to do with the plants and their tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content; tetrahydrocannabinol being the psychoactive chemical that gives the “high” feeling that marijuana users experience.

While marijuana has substantial quantities of this chemical, 30 – 60 per cent, hemp contains less than one per cent.

Moreover, hemp can be used to make over 25,000 products, with uses ranging from being a nutritious high protein food source to being used to make paper, diesel, and clothing, among other things.

According to reports, the hemp industry is worth a $1B and Guyanese are keenly awaiting the opportunity to cultivate the plant.

West Bank of Demerara resident, Michelle Jeffers, 20, is one such Guyanese.

“I think that it will be betterment for a lot of young people that are unemployed at the moment, and even for elderly people who are still fit and think they can; it’s just something that can help in so many ways,” Jeffers said.

One La Penitence resident is already prospecting land on the Soesdyke-Linden Highway to put down her farm as soon as the industry becomes possible.

She’s hoping to start a sub-association in the La Penitence area, because of the growing interest she has observed there.

The Guyana Hemp Association is looking to have hemp products manufactured right here in Guyana to boost job creation.

“One of the things that we were hoping to achieve is to attract investors to manufacture the products here [in Guyana], so we can sell the products. That won’t be a great problem. Once the legislation is passed, investors will come, because you can make so many things out of the seed,” Rahman said.

Isaacs said he will be going through the petition as soon as possible to ensure that the document confirms to Parliament protocol, and advised the GHA that they will need to find a Member of Parliament to table the bill.

“I am pleased to receive your petition. My duty is just to ensure that your petition is properly and respectfully worded and is in order with the Standing Orders of Parliament in Guyana. I wish to assure you that this will be done almost immediately, and I will get back to you as soon as is possible,” Isaacs stated.

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