Senator Verla De Peiza thinks time is past due for Barbados to make marijuana a lawful product, and intends to step up the fight for legalization of the plant.
She told a panel discussion last night that for a long time she believed Barbados should have been exploiting the benefits of marijuana, and in making her case the Government Senator took a different position to Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite, who said that the island should not jump on a bandwagon of legalizing the herb, and more research is needed to determine it suitability.
“Research from all the way back in the 70s already has the answer to that,” she said at a National Council on Prevention of Alcohol and Drug Dependency (NCPADD) forum on marijuana at the Bridgetown Public Library.
De Peiza said that despite being a Democratic Labour Party member and Government Senator, she was speaking as a criminologist, not a politician or a representative of the administration.
She however reverted to her role as a people’s representative when asked if legalizing marijuana is a simple task.
“We have to ask ourselves what do people want. Because as politicians we do have to recognise we’re representing people, therefore we have to be able to focus on what the people want, instead of telling what they ought to have,” she said. “And I think that is where we need to be these days instead of saying things we should not legalize because of a lack of research”.
De Peiza, a criminal lawyer, made clear that she is a devout Seventh Day Adventist and never used marijuana, alcohol or cigarettes, and is campaigning for the controlled use of herb because of what she sees as its usefulness to society.
The Senator told the scant audience that she came upon information on the useful properties and became a believer in the 1990s when researching for an academic paper.
She added that Barbados must be willing to accept change.
“We just have to have the courage to accept that there is information out there that can help us. . . Think of where we could have been, had we allowed ourselves to open our minds and expand what we thought we knew, where could we be today.”
Stressing that society must get to the point of separating the terms “use” and “abuse”, De Peiza stressed that limitations can be placed on the way marijuana is produced and applied.
The Senator expressed her resolve to continue the fight for making marijuana a legal product:”There has got to be someone who stands up and says we need to really open our minds and open the discussion. And I don’t [have] any difficulty leading off… I have waited long years for the discussion to actually be tabled, and now it is, I’m going to run with it.”