A group of individuals against the use of marijuana for recreational purposes is about to turn up the pressure on Government to rethink its position to have a referendum on the matter.
So far, the Mia Mottley administration has announced that a medical cannabis industry would be developed in Barbados and a public vote would decide if the country should legalize quantities of marijuana for recreational use.
No date has been set for the referendum, but President of the Barbados Road Safety Association (BRSA) Sharmane Roland-Bowen said that organsation was in the process of forming a coalition against the recreational use of cannabis.
“This is not about the medical marijuana. It is about the referendum for the recreational marijuana,” Roland-Bowen told Barbados TODAY, while pointing out that the new group, once officially established, would be embarking on a national education campaign.
“We want when this referendum comes people are educated, that they go into it with knowledge and not out of ignorance. We are being proactive even though the referendum date has not been announced,” she said.
While the road safety advocate did not give a date for the official introduction of the alliance, she said so far they have a medical doctor, psychiatrist and “religious persons” on board.
She said she was hopeful to get the support of insurance companies and the full support of all religious-based organisations.
The alliance, which is to be led by the cash-strapped BRSA, is to be called “the Coalition for a Safe, Healthy and Productive Barbados”.
“The aim of this association, where we are inviting persons who are against this legalisation to come on board and let us work with one voice, not for us to lie down and take this, because this can greatly damage our future generation,” said Roland-Bowen.
“So this coalition aims to provide safety. We want people to be safe on the road and safe in their homes. Also healthy because we know what drugs can do to a person’s mind. So we want them to be safe, healthy and for the productive part of it is where we want people to live productive lives and reach their true potential, not to let drugs drag them down,” she said.
Roland-Bowen argued that there was still not enough education on marijuana and its effects, which she said could have devastating effects.
“The Government will come and let us know what they want us to know, but this coalition, we are speaking what they want us to know and what they don’t want us to know. We are going all out because it is about our children and grandchildren and we are saying no to it,” she said, adding that research showed that marijuana use could contribute to road fatalities, domestic abuse and the use of other drugs.
However, President of the African Heritage Foundation (AHF) Paul Rock told Barbados TODAY in a recent interview that while he agreed there was need for more education on marijuana, he was eager to see the legalisation of the drug for recreational and sacramental use.
Paul said he was disappointed that the development of a cannabis industry in Barbados was taking too long, and that the country was now “playing catch up”.
“The prohibition has never been about health, it is about economics. So right now, what I would like to see within an amnesty would be for personal possession for about five ounces and being able to plant at least 15 trees,” he said.