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Commercial farmers say they will stick to their vegetables

Delicate: Cannabis is not suited to growing in Bermuda’s climate (Photograph supplied)

A farmer said he would not cultivate cannabis - even if it becomes legal.

Roger Pacheco said the plant was very delicate and unsuitable for outside growth in Bermudian weather conditions.

He predicted commercial growers would have to construct purpose-built buildings to produce a crop.

Mr Pacheco was speaking after the Cannabis Licensing Act 2020 was passed in the House of Assembly last Friday.

Businesses would be able to grow, harvest, transport, sell and export cannabis legally – as long as they pay up to $10,000 to Government for a licence if the legislation wins approval.

Government touted the legislation as the key to opening up a new industry on the island worth millions of dollars.

Mr Pacheco farms 65 acres of land in Devonshire, producing vegetables such as broccoli and carrots.

But he said the idea that large areas of land could be used to cultivate cannabis was not viable.

He added: “The thing is, it’s just not an outdoor crop here.

“It’s actually very delicate and because of our inconsistent climate and the fact that we have a lot of bugs, it means that you can’t grow it as a field crop. It’s just not suitable or convenient.

“You’ll be far better off growing it indoors where you have more control over the environment. But if you wanted to grow it on a commercial scale, you’d have to get a big building.”

Mr Pacheco said: “We’re not going to get into growing it. We’re just going to continue growing our regular vegetables.”

He was backed by another farmer, who said that growth of a cannabis crop indoors in a controlled environment was a “science” and needed a lot of skill.

Tom Wadson, from Somerset, said: “I’ve never planted a weed seed in my life and I’m not going to start now.

“I just have no interest in it. I’m busy enough with what we’re growing as it is. I find it hard to see how it would be financially viable.”

Government’s claim that legalisation of cultivation of the drug would create scores of jobs and opportunities for entrepreneurs was also questioned by the Opposition One Bermuda Alliance during the debate in the House of Assembly.

Craig Cannonier, the shadow spokesman for tourism, highlighted that Government had estimated cannabis to be a $6 million industry.

He said: “I do not believe that a $6 million market at this point in time is going to be lucrative to anyone in the near future.”

Mr Cannonier added that produce grown on-island had always been more expensive than imports because of the high cost of living.

He said that growers who bought a Government licence could still be undercut by dealers who smuggled the drug into Bermuda.

Mr Cannonier added: “The cost of growing cannabis is going to be high and so the fellow who’s selling it underground – who’s already importing it and isn’t paying any taxes on it – will continue to thrive.

“I have a problem with that.”

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Published February 26, 2021 at 8:28 am (Updated February 26, 2021 at 8:28 am)

Commercial farmers say they will stick to their vegetables

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