Marijuana Tourism Debate Slated for the CTO State of the Industry Conference in the U.S. Virgin Islands Next Week

The notion or reality of marijuana tourism will be discussed at the upcoming State of the Industry Conference (SOTIC) in the U.S. Virgin Islands next week. Expert presenters will debate issues related to the subject as part of a broader discussion on medical, health and wellness tourism.

The debate surrounding marijuana tourism has taken a sharper focus in recent months following its legalization for recreational use by two U.S. states, including Colorado. Uruguay has also become the first country in the world to make it legal to grow, sell and consume cannabis.

Since it became legal to smoke marijuana in Colorado at the start of the year, there have been several reports of a boom in arrivals from both within and outside the U.S. The Colorado office of state planning and budgeting reported $19 million in tax revenue from recreational marijuana during the first half of the year, although it didn’t say how much of that was from tourism versus local buyers. 

“The Caribbean has an interest in this subject, the Caribbean has an interest in attracting visitors to our shores, and so medical tourism, including the discussion about marijuana, is going to be one of the parts of the debate that we have," said Hugh Riley, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO)’s secretary general, in a written release. "One of the interesting aspects of that particular debate is looking at the medical evidence because it’s important that we do not look at one particular aspect. At the end of the day we have to make decisions that are in the best interest of the people of the Caribbean."

The session will be led by Richard Kildare, the deputy CEO of Jamaica's first medical marijuana company, MediCanja, and will include presentations by Dr. James Hospedales, the executive director of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), and Josef Woodman, the CEO and founder of Patients Beyond Borders.  Also on the panel is Rory Johnston, a PhD student at the faculty of health sciences at Simon Fraser University in Canada, who will present on the ethical and legal implications, as well as the risks associated with medical tourism.

This is just one of the provocative sessions at SOTIC, which takes place September 17-19 at the Marriott Frenchman’s Reef and Morning Star Resort in St. Thomas.