If former Member of Parliament Hamilton Lashley could have his way, members of Barbados’ elite and planter class could not benefit “one red cent” from the proposed cannabis industry in Barbados.
The outspoken Lashley recalled that he was ridiculed when he stood in the House of Assembly and called for the decriminalisation of cannabis. He added that the main people in Barbados who should now benefit from any cannabis industry should be members of the Rastafarian community who over the years had endured the brunt of social ostracism and victimization for their use of cannabis.
During an interview with Barbados TODAY, an aggrieved Lashley lamented that too many Rastafarians had been jailed and otherwise punished for the use of marijuana, even if they had reasoned with those in authority that its usage was for religious purposes. He suggested that they primarily suffered this fate because a section of society opposed it and it was now members of this same section of society who would be lining up to benefit from the industry.
“It would be a travesty and a tragedy of social and natural justice if the opponents to the legalisation of marijuana for medicinal purposes, be the main financial beneficiaries from this proposed industry. To me, the main beneficiaries should be the Rastamen who not only use it for medicinal purposes, but it is also part of their religious practices, which they are entitled to. For years, the Rastafarian community and Rastamen were the persons who went before the judiciary in Barbados for cannabis,” Lashley asserted.
Lashley suggested that Government allocate lands to particular members of the Rastafarian community who had sacrificed their efforts and time over the decades to fight for the decriminalisation of cannabis and to open up Barbadian society’s eyes to the benefits of the plant.
He said that members of the “planter class” community who owned acres of land should not now be reaping the majority of the benefits of an industry for which they had made no sacrifices and had done nothing to bring Barbadian society to the prevailing understanding of cannabis.
“I realise that the people who got the land, are going to be the main beneficiaries, unless Government intervenes and allocate lands to the persons who would have sacrificed. The fact is that those persons who were opposed to it, should not benefit from it because to me, it is gross hypocrisy. They should stick to their original position and say they don’t want any part of it.
“But they are not doing that because they realise that it is going to be a multi-million dollar industry and they want to capitalise. I know we are living in a capitalist system, but this is when at least we should be very mindful of the opposers to the legalisation of marijuana,” he said.
Lashley also took a hit at the church, indicating that he was struggling to figure out how religious leaders could say they are totally against cannabis being legalized for medicinal purposes, when Christians believe that plants are a part of God’s creations.
“The over indulgence of alcohol is a sin, the over indulgence at the same time of smoking cigarettes or marijuana is also a sin. But then, God in his wisdom has created all types of plant life on planet earth so that many can benefit from it,” he said.
Meanwhile, member of the Ichirouganaim Council for the Advancement of Rastafari, Adonijah, told Barbados TODAY he agreed with Lashley’s sentiments.
However, Adonijah noted that he would not say that the planter class should not benefit in “no way” since history showed that the playing field had never been level as it related to land ownership in Barbados.
“But of course we should get our due because we are the ones that have been making the great sacrifice. I don’t know of many people from the plantocracy that got killed because of cannabis, whereas I know several who are black that that has happened to,” he said.
Adonijah added: “People need to remember that the case of I’Akobi Maloney was a cannabis case. The alarm was first raised when some persons on a cliff saw a Rasta and figured that it was a Rastaman that had something to do with drugs being landed. That alarm is what caused I’Akobi to lose his life.”