A civil society group that advocates for the legalization of marijuana here is demanding the release of everyone jailed for using the illegal drug.
Cannabis Barbados is contending that the use of cannabis ought not be a criminal offence in the first place, therefore, it was wrong to jail people who use it mainly for recreation, but also for medical and religious purposes.
In any event, the group’s spokesman Peter Adonijah Alleyne said, the incarceration of so many young men will have a devastating effect on the country in the coming years.
“Cannabis Barbados is . . . calling for an end to incarceration for the use of cannabis and the release of all of those imprisoned for such, along with the expunging of records,” Alleyne told a panel discussion last Friday, April 20 – known as 4:20 or Weed Day – at Israel Lovell Foundation’s Headquarters in My Lord’s Hill, St Michael.
“We wonder if the social engineers who [are] supposed to be so bright have considered the future of what we consider an aging society when a large number of young men are being criminalized for a plant. Thirty years down the road what would the situation be? The young lions who should be out there forging a way in society are being locked up for the usage of a plant. That does not make any sense,” Alleyne stressed,
Cannabis Barbados said it was on a mission to educate the authorities and the public about the history, prohibition, spiritual relevance and the implication of legalization of the plant, which it refused to refer to as marijuana, because the word “comes out of a history of racism in terms of the discrimination of Mexicans about cannabis”.
Alleyne charged that the authorities had been bombarding the Barbadian public with “misinformation, wrong information and often downright lies” about ganja for a very long time and “it is our belief that the time has come to dispel the myths through the presentation of the facts surrounding this plant of which we have been told in the bible is for the healing of the nations”.
During the discussion dubbed, The Emperor Wears No Clothes, the advocate for ganja use told the mostly Rastafarian audience it was only a matter of time before Barbados joins Jamaica and some states in the United States in decimalizing the drug.
However, Cannabis Barbados wants the country to go even further and legalize it.
“The group wants the end of the persecution of people for the use of a natural plant, the benefits of which are being recognized a bit more every day all over the world. We are asking for legalization so that the full benefits – spiritual, medical and economic – could be explored by all. We are encouraged by the moves towards the first step of decriminalization by our neighbours, Jamaica and Antigua and Barbuda, notably. We have started to make full representation with the relevant authorities. At this point I should note that the Rastafari community, for a number of years, has engaged the Government of Barbados in discussions relative to cannabis,” Alleyne said.
Confident that the changes in legislation will come, Alleyne said he hoped big business would not be the ones to benefit at the expense of those who fought over the years to free the weed.
“We have also resolved to ensure that when the changes in legislation come – and make no bones about it, it has to happen and we have seen it happen all around us – . . . when these changes come we want to make sure that the people who have suffered the most under these repressive laws that now exist, mainly Rastafari and all poor people, that we are able to benefit and not be excluded or sidelined when the big land owners decide to flex their muscles.
“What we do not want to see is that when the laws are changed that the people that have all the land decide that they are going to plant ganja and the people that have suffered the most under that repression fighting to get a [small part] in it,” he stressed.
Alleyne added that the development of a cannabis industry here would help the Barbados economy flourish through the many by-products that could be produced from the plant.