A serious probe into the marijuana trade in Barbados should form part of Government’s strategies to arrest the rise in violent crimes, attorney-at-law and social activist David Comissiong has suggested.
Against the backdrop of 25 murders so far this year – 21 of which were gun-related – compared to 22 in 2016, Comissiong argued that the nexus between gangs, guns and the illegal drug trade could not be denied.
He specifically called for the authorities to return to the drawing board on whether marijuana should be legalized or decriminalized.
“I think we have to be serious about the issue of gangs and the extent to which gangs are attached to the marijuana trade and the extent to which guns are a product of gangs, and the marijuana trade.
“If it [marijuana trade] is removed from being an illegal activity to which is attached considerable profits by those who engage in the illegal trafficking of marijuana, you may be able to diffuse that situation of gangs and guns.
“But this is something that will call for a lot of study and research and analysis and I think that kind of research and analysis needs to be undertaken by Barbados in a serious way,” he told journalists.
However, Comissiong, who would not be drawn into whether or not the drug should be legalized, even though he argued for the establishment of a national commission to research and analyze the best way forward on the matter.
“Let them research and examine the experience of other countries like Uruguay that legalized marijuana, Holland that has decriminalized and regulated the drug, countries like Canada and some of the [states] within the United States that have legalized medicinal uses of marijuana.”
Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite has been cautious on the issue on decriminalization of the drug.
Back in January he told a consultation of national stakeholders for the formulation of a national drug plan for 2017-2021, that the island could not afford to simply jump on the international bandwagon as far as the regulation of recreational drugs was concerned.
Like Comissiong, he had stressed that Barbados had to carry out some serious research.
“As a country and as minister responsible for the NCSA [National Council on Substance Abuse] ours is not to respond to the most emotive or loudest of voices. Ours is to respond and ensure that whatever decision we make, redounds to the benefit of the majority of the citizens of this country. So if there is a role for medicinal marijuana then let’s examine it and then make that determination,” Brathwaite had said at the time.