“Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new
evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.”―
Frantz Fanon, in full Frantz Omar Fanon, (born July 20, 1925, Martinique—died December 6, 1961, Maryland, U.S.). He was a West Indian psychoanalyst and social philosopher known for his theory that some neuroses are socially generated and for his writings on behalf of the national liberation of colonial peoples. His critiques influenced subsequent generations of thinkers and activists.
In 2018 the CARICOM Regional Commission on marijuana found after four years of research, that upon “analysis of the comprehensive information gathered, it indicated that the current legal regime for cannabis/ marijuana, characterized as it is by prohibition and draconian criminal penalties, is ineffective, incongruous, obsolete and deeply unjust.”
If the government will not act on these findings then the people must!
“When we revolt it’s not for a particular culture. We revolt simply because, for many reasons, we can no longer breathe”―
Moreover, it reiterated its unanimity “in its view that the current classification for cannabis/ marijuana as a ‘dangerous drug’ with ‘no value’ or narcotic, should be changed to a classification of cannabis as a ‘controlled substance’” and “can no longer be accurately classified in law as a dangerous drug with ‘no medicinal or other value’”.
Chairperson of CARICOM Commission on Marijuana supports legalizing the herb
Though it is acknowledged that Barbados has recently embarked on the highway to providing accessibility to medicinal marijuana; it would be remise if the fact that the medicinal benefits and properties of the plant have been highlighted by the Rastafari movement for decades and its subsequent and consequent persecution was not highlighted.
“The unpreparedness of the educated classes, the lack of practical links between them and the mass of the people, their laziness, and, let it be said, their cowardice at the decisive moment of the struggle will give rise to tragic mishaps.”―
As with places like Colorado, our tax rolls will benefit and the economy bloom from the legalization of cannabis for recreational use due to the availability of over the counter cannabis. However that been said, money should never be the driving factor over the lives of the thousands who have suffered as a result of cannabis prohibition since the 1990’s.
Colorado’s adult-use marijuana market continues to surge nearly five years after the launch of recreational sales in the state.
The Regional Commission shares this viewpoint, suggesting “that a law reform process that focuses only on medicinal marijuana would seriously short-change Caribbean peoples”.
“I say that intelligence has never saved anyone; and that is true, for, if philosophy and intelligence are invoked to proclaim the equality of men, they have also been employed to justify the extermination of men.”
Indeed, it has been well documented that existing laws governing prohibition have persecuted and criminalized the user and at times non-users through profiling, particularly low-income earners and Rastafari persons, resulting in many cases in a negative domino effect on their lives.
The United Nations General Assembly on the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion of Belief states in Article 1,
- Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have a religion or whatever belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.
3 Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.
It further states in Article 4,
- All States shall take effective measures to prevent and eliminate discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief in the recognition, exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms in all fields of civil, economic, political, social and cultural life.
2 All States shall make all efforts to enact or rescind legislation where necessary to prohibit any such discrimination, and to take all appropriate measures to combat intolerance on the grounds of religion or other beliefs in this matter.
“To educate the masses politically does not mean, cannot mean, making a political speech. What it means is to try, relentlessly and passionately, to teach the masses that everything depends on them; that if we stagnate it is their responsibility, and that if we go forward it is due to them too, that there is no such thing as a demiurge, that there is no famous man who will take the responsibility for everything, but that the demiurge is the people themselves and the magic hands are finally only the hands of the people.”
Furthermore, within our Barbados constitution there are protections for freedom of conscience, namely section 19 (1) (6), which states:
“Except with his own consent, no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of conscience and for the purpose of this section the said freedom includes freedom of thought and of religion, freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others, and both public and in private, to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.
Nothing contained in or done under the authority of any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of this section to the extent that the law in question makes provision.”
The Rastafari community should be able to practice their faith as is does not trespass on any of the ‘reasonably required provisions’, namely – defense, public safety, public order, public morality or public health.
On the contrary, the current cannabis laws have seemingly exasperated crime levels, where we can definitely see a correlation between cannabis and crime but the challenge now is for bureaucracy to realize that this is mainly due to its prohibition making it a black-market driver for nefarious activity. Furthermore, this prohibition and the unregulated structure encourages easy access by adolescents due to the excitement that the prohibition of a thing has on a child’s rebellious curiosity. Similarly, the family structure is uprooted in many cases where adult males are imprisoned for possession of small quantities, in homes where they were the sole bread-winner and provider. This too correlates to adolescent rebellion leading in some cases to dispute resolution through violence for the possession of a nontoxic plant.
The numbers aren’t specific to Colorado and Washington state. But the reported rates represent a slight downward shift in nationwide teen marijuana use ..
“A government or a party gets the people it deserves and sooner or later a people gets the government it deserves.”
Our prison system houses a prisoner at approximately $85.68 per day. It makes for a drain on the tax payers of Barbados when an individual is held and then prosecuted through the system, sometimes taking years for quantities totaling $20 and $30. Cannabis is as much a recreational drug as alcohol, tobacco and even coffee, which are all legal. The Regional Commission also noted that, “while usage of cannabis / marijuana for purposes other than medicinal is often referred to as ‘recreational’, … cannabis / marijuana is proven to have therapeutic properties, as a stress reliever. The term ‘recreational’ is somewhat of a misnomer, since it ignores the mental health issues in this paradigm. It is important to note here that in Barbados many communities have witnessed first-hand the negative consequence of alcoholism; while we jump, fete and wave in the name of rum.
We need ganja legalization now as a priority. While government pushes ahead with medicinal marijuana legalization, fathers, uncles, brothers and sometimes even our women are being victimized and incarcerated for what should be seen as a basic human right, in the possession, growing and use of a non-lethal plant. We need a moratorium on the prohibition of cannabis while we await the decision to embark on a referendum. The people need an ease. The Rastafari community was highlighted within the Barbados Labour Party’s manifesto as a priority. This issue is a priority for the Rastafari community. The case of legalization should never be a partisan issue as many Barbadians have been affected by prohibition whether directly or indirectly. The cannabis community sees itself as needing to have a greater say, facilitated by public discourse on the issue of Cannabis legalization for recreational use. This community knows that it must be afforded participation opportunities in the active working groups drafting policies which directly impacts the community.
“Everything can be explained to the people, on the single condition that you really want them to understand.”
The African Heritage Foundation invites you to have your voice heard and presence felt on the issue of legal cannabis for recreational and spiritual use felt by signing a petitioned letter to Prime Minister Mottley. This letter invites her to a public meeting, whereby a discourse on consideration’s for a moratorium on arrests for possession of small quantities of the plant and small home garden cultivation can be put forward. The petition will be available to be signed at the Red Light Reggae House Limes that takes place every Saturday from 6pm – 12am. The Red Light usually asks for a donation of $10 but if you don’t have it, you are still welcome to come. If you are passing by just to sign the petition, then you can do so without cost. If you would like to assist with the collecting of signatures please contact the African Heritage Foundation at 260-4795.
“The people come to understand that wealth is not the fruit of labour but the result of organised, protected robbery. Rich people are no longer respectable people; they are nothing more than flesh eating animals, jackals and vultures which wallow in the people’s blood.”
African Heritage Foundation