A man who was remanded to prison for having a “five-bag” of marijuana last Saturday believes he was treated unfairly.
Maurice Sandiford, who appeared before Magistrate Wayne Clarke in the District “A” Magistrates Court and was remanded to HMP Dodds to reappear at Holetown Magistrates’ Court yesterday, told Barbados TODAY he was angry he received such a “harsh punishment” when there were people “out here murdering, raping and robbing people and getting bail.”
Speaking at his Porters, St James home, the professional artist said he was upset that he was not given the opportunity to be granted bail for having the substance in his possession which had a street value of $25.
“It feels horrible, terrible and disgraceful. The magistrate . . . just read me the charge, said it was not his jurisdiction and he sending me up for three days and three nights,” he said.
“I was in court shocked, my wife was shocked and the guys come in handcuffs and sent me straight to prison in shackles like it is slavery.”
Sandiford said he was treated as less than a human being during the two nights – including Old Year’s and New Year’s Day – that he was locked up at the District “E” Police Station where he was forced to sleep on benches in an area that appeared unclean. However, he admitted that there were a few officers at the station who treated him “nicely.”
“It was awful and quite terrible coming from work and the police just pulled over and jumped on me just like that. They stripped me in public and even take off my pants, tourist around and everything,” he complained.
Sandiford said the judicial system should take into consideration the fact that marijuana was being legalized in a number of developed countries and should make recommendations to Government to decriminalize its use and at least allow people to have small quantities in their possession for personal use.
When he appeared before Magistrate Wanda Blair in the Holetown court, Sandiford was placed on a bond to keep the peace. He will have to pay a $500 fine if he fails to uphold it.
“I don’t get into trouble. Wealthy tourists come here looking for me for art. I help to save people from drowning and all of these things,” the artist insisted.
Meanwhile, prominent attorney-at-law and former president of the Barbados Bar Association, Andrew Pilgrim, QC, told Barbados TODAY that he was equally concerned about Sandiford being remanded.
Pilgrim too argued, “no one going to court with that amount of marijuana would expect that they would be going to prison that day and people are getting bail in this country for murder, for rape, for gun possession and for possession of 2 000 pounds of marijuana.”
“It is just very difficult to justify why a man who has no criminal record, 51-years-old, who doesn’t have any cases pending, who is not a flight risk would be made to sit in prison for four days before he is sentenced and then you see what the sentence was today. The sentence
is to be on good behavior for six months . . . ,” Pilgrim said.
Pilgrim argued that whether or not people feel that small quantities of marijuana should be legal, it should be appreciated that Barbados has
treated possession of that quantity as non-trafficable and for personal use as a minor offense.