Exclusive: Saint Vincent and the Grenadines announces initiative to permit psychedelic treatment and research
The Caribbean nation of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has launched an initiative to permit and support psychedelic research and wellness. The initiative will begin as a Medicinal Wellness Feasibility Study, which is expected to last 24 to 30 months, and will include “cultivation, research, processing, and prescription of psychedelic plant-based compounds including psilocybin, ibogaine, peyote, ketamine, dimethyltryptamine, ayahuasca and sassafras,” according to a release made exclusively to PSYCH.
Much like Switzerland is an international destination for health spas, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines hopes to be a destination for psychedelic treatment. “St. Vincent and the Grenadines aspires to be a medicinal and wellness destination,” Ezra Ledger, Executive Director of the SVG Bureau of Standards, told PSYCH. “This Medicinal Wellness Feasibility Study is a bold-but-measured move toward this future aspiration. We intend to become one of the world’s premier options for safe and effective plant-based and psychedelic-assisted therapies and treatment.”
“Emerging plant-based medicines have changed the lives of patients worldwide, and now they can transform our nation,” Saboto Caesar, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry, and Labour, said in a release to PSYCH.
The impetus for the initiative grew out of an analysis of the medicinal potential of the flora and fauna of the island. “The program began as an overall examination of the many plants of medicinal value on the island – including Psilocybin mushrooms, sassafras, ginger, merengue, turmeric, papaya, and arrowroot along with other healing plants,” Ledger said. “It later expanded to a focus on proving a full range of psychedelics to include compounds like Ibogaine and ketamine among others. We want to closely observe how the ecosystem works synergistically from cultivation to patient care.”
The study will be limited to begin, however. There have been only three licenses granted, SVG Biomed, is the designated importer, handler and distributor of the psychedelic substances. Mera Life Sciences and Ajori Health & Wellness are the other licensees, though another may be added. “Depending on the overall progression, one additional licensee may be added to expand the scope and range of the Study,” Ledger said.
Psychedelic wellness clinics where patients can receive psychedelic treatment will be a part of the program. “The clinics will be regulated similarly to those in Canada and the United States,” Ledger told PSYCH. “St. Vincent and the Grenadines intends to obey the strictest protocols and operate its clinical program in full compliance with international standards and local regulations.”
The initiative aims to allow any eligible patient, regardless of where they reside, to access treatment. “A key goal of the program is inclusion,” Ledger said. “It is our plan to have patients from anywhere in the world – once deemed eligible – who can come avail themselves of compassionate care and clinical remedies in a safe and properly regulated environment.”
More details on the initiative, such as specific requirements for patients seeking treatment, are expected to be released in December.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is not the first Caribbean nation to embrace psychedelic wellness and research. Jamaica is home to many psychedelic retreats, and the University of West Indies, Mona, Jamaica has partnered with Field Trip Health to create a psilocybin research and cultivation facility in Jamaica. Minerco, Inc. also purchased property in Jamaica for the cultivation and research of psilocybin mushrooms. However, Jamaica’s situation is a result of never banning the possession or cultivation of psilocybin and not the result of a government initiative to encourage psychedelics research and wellness like in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Whether this is part of a trend of Caribbean nations providing safe harbor for psychedelic research and wellness is yet to be seen, but it could certainly be a boon for their economies as patients from around the world seek out psychedelic treatment.