A former Government MP has described as “progressive”, Vincentian Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves’ call for the Caribbean’s exploration and exploitation of marijuana as a cash crop.
While declaring that he did not smoke the weed, former representative for
St Michael South East Hamilton Lashley said, as someone who had come from the Pine, he had been made aware that “Barbados has the best quality marijuana in the world”.
And agreeing with Gonsalves, who delivered a lecture at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus on Monday night, he said it was high time Barbados and its regional neighbours sought to make use of the herb, especially for medicinal purposes.
“It could be a major income generator for Barbados, and I am asking, particularly from the Attorney General’s office, to set up a committee that could effectively look at the issue of legalization and do not keep postponing it when other developed countries have already legalized it and are making an actual profit from the sale of the herb that God put on this earth,” said Lashley.
The former Minister of Social Transformation also said he was prompted to telephone Barbados TODAY to share his views on the controversial subject after hearing the views of the Chief Medical Officer in St Kitts and Nevis, Dr Patrick Martin, who has called for the legalization of marijuana in light of recent worrying gun incidents in the twin-island federation.
“I am in total agreement with him [Dr Martin] because there is a clear correlation and an inextricable link between drugs and guns. That is a known fact,” said the social activist.
“And I am saying that the longer that we fail in the Caribbean – because it is not only in Barbados – to legalize marijuana, one, for medicinal purposes, and, two, as a main weapon in the fight against some of the criminal gangs and the killings in the Caribbean territories . . . we all will continue to suffer at the hands of the onslaught of gun violence in the Caribbean.”
He pointed out that in both Europe and the United States many states had commercialized marijuana and were making millions of dollars, while the Caribbean continued to frown on its use.
“Fortunately for us, Jamaica is possibly seeing the light in terms of legalization but we still continue to act in Barbados like if we are hoodwinked and to behave as if we are acting under the instructions of the colonial masters from Great Britain,” said the former grassroots politician.
However, he said whether the Caribbean liked it or not, marijuana was a “business trade” and he compared its illegality today with that of alcohol in the “ruined” 1920s and 1930s.
“From the time they decriminalized it [alcohol], all of that killing was done; and I agree with the Chief Medical Officer [in St Kitts] that in the short term, medium term, long term, it would be beneficial if they decriminalize, with limitations, the usage of marijuana,” Lashley maintained.
However, he called for official controls, saying, “you should not wholesale decriminalize it, so that a man should walk down Broad Street, or go in a supermarket and tek out a spliff and smoke it.
“It would come under that same Act that all smoking is prohibited in public places,” he explained.
Lashley also said marijuana use by children should be strictly prohibited unless prescribed by a medical doctor, and made it clear that he was not advocating legalization of cocaine, amphetamines, and other harmful drugs.
“I’m talking strictly about the best quality drug in the world, marijuana,” he said.