Medicinal marijuana could impact food security

A LEADING farmer in Vanuatu says he’s concerned about the negative impacts growing medical marijuana could have on the country’s agricultural sector.

The government is looking to legalise growing medicinal marijuana to help boost the medical sector.

While smoking marijuana will still be illegal in Vanuatu, the new crops would be exported for medical use overseas.

The National Farmers Association director, Peter Kaoh, said while it could have economic benefits, many farmers could switch from growing food to cannabis.

Mr Kaoh said he was concerned that this would affect Vanuatu’s food security.

“If everyone is going into marijuana, who is going to plant for them,’’ he said.

“That’s my biggest worry, they might get into the farming if the price is good and then they end up importing lots of food.

“Locals would also start smoking cannabis for recreation if it was grown for medicinal purposes.’’

After a similar scheme for growing tobacco, the government was now trying to eliminate that crop but many farmers continued to grow it, he said.

“I hope we are not repeating the same mistake, which is we started and later on we said, ‘no this is not good’,” he said.

“It’s not easy to control, even though we are trying to control it, but for me it won’t be easy.”

Mr Kaoh said he feared the same thing will happen to farmers who grow marijuana.