State Minister of Tourism Diana Gamage
- Shows joint Cabinet paper presented in November based on June 2023 decision
- Says memorandum was submitted by President and State Minister of Investment Promotion Dilum Amunugama
- Asserts State Minister of Indigenous Medicine Sisira Jayakody proposed obtaining Cabinet approval
State Minister of Tourism Diana Gamage yesterday confirmed that the Cabinet had already approved to export of cannabis last year.
Her response comes following Cabinet Co-Spokesman and Minister Bandula Gunawardena on Tuesday dismissing claims that a proposal had been presented to the Cabinet of Ministers on cultivating cannabis for export purposes.
Gamage swiftly showed the Cabinet Paper No: 23/2321/631/031, a joint memorandum dated 29 November 2023 by the President and Minister of Investment Promotion and the Minister of Health on ‘Exporting the Thriloka Vijaya Pathra (Cannabis) based products’ (Cabinet decision dated 12 June 2023 on Cabinet Paper No: 23/0780/601/028 refers) the above memorandum was considered along with the following at this meeting;
i) Observation of Minister of Justice, Prison Affairs and Constitutional Reforms dated 11 December 2023; and
ii) The letter dated 11 December 2023 by the Secretary of the Ministry of Investment Promotion addressed to the Secretary to the Cabinet.
After discussions it was decided;
1) To grant approval to cultivate the Thriloka Vijaya Pathra (Cannabis) and manufacture allied products only for the purpose of exportation, based on the Report of the Commercial Feasibility of Cannabis, Technical Guidelines and Standard Operating Procedure attached in Annex 1, 2 and 3 to the memorandum respectively.
2) To direct the Secretary of the Ministry of Investment Promotion to prepare the criteria for selecting investors as stated in the letter referred to at (ii) above and submit the same expeditiously to the Cabinet through the Minister for consideration and
3) To direct the Secretary, of the Ministry of Health to take necessary action to obtain formal approval expeditiously from Regulations made under the Ayurveda Act No.31 of 1961 attached as Annex-4 to the Memorandum. Action by Ministry of Investment Promotion - copy each of the relevant documents annexed.
Speaking to media at the Parliament premises yesterday Gamage said the Cabinet paper was submitted by President Ranil Wickremesinghe along with State Minister of Investment Promotion Dilum Amunugama.
“It was State Minister of Indigenous Medicine Sisira Jayakody, who proposed obtaining Cabinet approval, not me,” she asserted.
The MP also said that she does not share information, without accurate details to support it.
“If this proposal goes well it is good for the country or we can remain like beggars as always,” Gamage claimed.
While she was speaking to the media, State Minister Gamage witnessed Cabinet Co-Spokesman Gunawardena’s arrival via the Parliament lift. She promptly entered the lift and urged Gunawardena to clarify that it was MP Jayakody, not her, who sought Cabinet approval.
“She’s (Gamage) not a Cabinet Minister and such a proposal was not presented to the Cabinet on Monday. I cannot give false information about something that didn’t occur,” Gunawardena said at the post-Cabinet meeting media briefing on Tuesday.
Since 2021, MP Gamage made news headlines with a proposition of using cannabis to contribute to fixing the country’s debt problem. Similar to how tobacco is a legal crop, she suggested that licenses be provided to those who wish to cultivate and export cannabis to enter this multi-billion dollar industry amidst the foreign exchange crisis.