Legalization of marijuana is high on the agenda for the United Progressive Party (UPP), with the eight-month-old political grouping promising to permit use of “a few grammes” for personal use if it were to win the next general election, constitutionally due by the middle of next year.
“Every time we open the paper, we see small people shuffling in chains for the use of something that’s natural,” complained former Barbados Labour Party (BLP) representative Hutson Griffith, who now carries the UPP’s banner in St John.
Addressing a political meeting at Edgecliff, St John last night where he was officially introduced as the party’s candidate in the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) stronghold held by the DLP since 1958, Griffith pointed out that several states in the United States had started the process of decriminalizing the use of marijuana and that Jamaica was now going the path of medical marijuana.
“What we in the UPP [are] proposing is we want to deal with the young people and we want to stop or minimize the young people from getting tarnished and the UPP is prepared to legalize personal use of marijuana when we get in power.
“Personal use means that you will not be trading, you will not be growing,” he explained.
Griffith, who contested the 2012 by-election and the 2013 general election on a BLP ticket and lost before he was replaced by Charles Griffith as its candidate for the upcoming poll, argued that “packs of [cigarettes] and cigars [were] all done from tobacco . . . but because [other influences] say that [marijuana] is illegal, we are going to wait for them to make all the money in the world then to come and say, ‘y’all legalize it [from a] medical marijuana point of view’.
“We are saying let us move the other way. Let us work the social side and as a result we are prepared to, under discussion, take the bull by the horns, change up legislation that would accommodate the decriminalization of personal use.
“Further we are prepared to examine any cases where guys were just caught with a few grammes, not even enough to make a spliff and have just been charged. We are prepared to pardon those guys so that they can get back into the working sector,” he said.
Also high on the UPP’s agenda is a major overhaul of the public transportation sector.
Describing it as integral to the island’s social and economic development, Griffith promised that the UPP would strengthen the sector to stop the financial burden on the Treasury.
“[The UPP will] encourage more efficient transport of our people to work and an overall movement of people which will start to prepare Barbados for longer working hours, because we will improve the movement of people,” he said.
“The minibus sector will be granted duty-free status on parts. All minibuses will be able to bring their parts in like the Government buses duty-free. We will move to a token or a card system where commuters will now purchase tokens or card, submit them to the bus conductor or driver [who will in turn] issue a numbered ticket to the commuter,” he added.
Griffith explained that after a specific period, the tickets collected would be exchanged for money from the Transport Board.
Before the small gathering, Griffith also revealed plans to have all public service vehicles (PSVs) fitted with a global positioning system (GPS) to track their movement.
“All [PSVs] must be fitted with GPS or another tracking device to monitor and confirm that the said public service vehicle is living up to its route licence obligations . . . . [With] the GPS tracking, . . . no busman is going to be able to [stop] by the wayside . . . because he is tired. What he will be forced to do is call in to the owner and get a relief driver because your licence says you must travel ‘x’ time, in ‘x’ location,” the UPP candidate said.