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Intellectual property (IP) rights will play a pivotal role in building out the value chain in the medicinal cannabis industry but some changes to the law have been recommended for local IP protection to be enforced.

This was one of the findings in groundbreaking research done by the students who form the University of the West Indies Cave Hill (The UWI Cave Hill) TradeLab Clinic.

The students were tasked with researching and writing a legal memorandum titled: An assessment of the IP regime for the promotion of the trade and investment in the Cannabis Industry in Barbados.

The presentation was held recently at the University of the West Indies – Cave Hill Campus (UWI – Cave Hill) and attended by the Chairman of the Barbados Medicinal Cannabis Licensing Board (BMCLB), Anthony Bryan; members of the BMCLB, and staff of the Barbados Medicinal Cannabis Licensing Authority (BMCLA), along with the co-directors of the TradeLab Clinic, Dr. Jan Yves Remy, and Dr. Ronnie Yearwood.

Dr. Remy applauded the students for their hard work and dedication, adding: “This year we have the fortune of having as a client extraordinaire, the BMCLA, which has been a fruitful collaboration for us because there’s a need for this kind of service in the community. We have been in touch over the past three and a half to four months with the BMCLA, under the guidance and leadership of Dr. Shantal Munro-Knight and we are very proud of our students, we’re proud of what they are always able to achieve.”

Dr. Yearwood, co-director of the TradeLab Clinic, added that “the work with the BMCLA was to look at Intellectual Property and more specifically whether Intellectual Property can provide a basis for potential economic growth in the cannabis industry in Barbados. So really, it is trying to understand the relationship between IP and the cannabis industry, and what Barbados could do in terms of supporting a cannabis industry. Really it’s focusing on how Intellectual Property can be part of the story of the cannabis industry in Barbados and the potential of both IP and the cannabis industry as contributors to economic growth.”

Chair of the Barbados Medicinal Cannabis Licensing Board (BMCLB), Anthony Bryan. (BMCLA)

In relaying his thanks to the students and their work, Chairman of the BMCLB, Anthony Bryan, noted that the technical and legal expertise displayed by the students would enable the BMCLA to move forward the discussion on:

  • comprehensive patent portfolios to safeguard a local cannabis IP framework,
  • to further confer strategically the application of trademark protection to help distinguish and protect the industry’s potentially innovative and proprietary products,
  • and to effectively maximise branding efforts while remaining compliant to the regulatory framework and guidelines.

He said: “Your research has also shown us that investing in strong IP protection of ground-breaking innovations such as any variety considered new in Barbados, like new local cultivars, will be critical – not only to the strength of any local cannabis company, but also to the success of the industry as a whole, especially in the face of numerous challenges, including product differentiation issues and the potential for complex commercial disputes.”

He also stated that: “For us at the BMCLA, this is our first step in taking an active approach toward investigating more into an IP framework for the industry. We recognise that this will become increasingly necessary as the industry matures and IP becomes a real driver of profit for many cannabis businesses that will grow from our local industry.

“The BMCLA anticipates an increased focus on brand differentiation as players compete for market share.  While this is still a nascent industry, we will build on this framework to facilitate the expectation of increased innovation and patent protection as companies stake their position in this emerging market… Because the expectation is that there will be many opportunities for innovation in the expanding cannabis market. Cannabis companies who consider their intellectual property position early will have a competitive advantage as the market unfolds. The BMCLA will stand ready to ensure the success of this industry,” he concluded.

Barbados Medicinal Cannabis Licensing Authority

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