Today the Medicinal Cannabis Bill will be laid in Parliament. Attorney General Dale Marshall, QC said in relation to this, “we have committed to medicinal cannabis because, as a fella said: ‘You gotta go where the science takes you’, but there is always going to be some push back.”
The African Heritage Foundation (AHF) agrees that we must go where science takes us. The question is, what or whose science are you referring to Mr. AG? The science of nature is the first law of creation. It is this science that informed Rastafari brothers and sisters internationally on the many positive uses of the ganja plant. It is this said science of nature that informed our fore-mothers and fathers on the use of herbs, barks, roots and leaves within our home and community health care.
We, the AHF, continue to advocate for the use of cannabis for holistic home health care. “Recreational” is a misnomer for cannabis use. It carries with it the connotation of partying in reckless enjoyment. On the contrary, if we look at a group of people gathered under a streetlight playing a friendly game of dominoes or cards it could be said that this is also recreational behaviour. These same people are engaged in the smoking of cannabis while playing their game. By the thought process we are being directed in when it comes to cannabis use, this would be seen as recreational use of the plant. Consider now, these same people playing dominoes and smoking cannabis are home after a long hard day of work. They have gone home, had a bath, something to eat, and to relax and totally unwind, they come outside to be with friends, smoke cannabis and play dominoes. What has just been described is therapeutic use of cannabis rather than recreational.
The example used in the previous paragraph to describe the difference in thinking between recreational use of cannabis and therapeutic use of cannabis can be validated by history. Cannabis sativa plant is called `ganja’ in India and Jamaica, `marijuana’ in North America, ‘hif’ in North Africa and `dagga’ in South Africa. As early as 2737 BC the Chinese Emperor Sheng Nun described cannabis as a superior herb and for centuries it was embraced unreservedly . There are records of its use in Arabic medicine dating back to the 8th century. Cannabis sativa was used for over a thousand years as a textile and medicine in Arabia, Mesopotamia, Persia, Egypt, China, India and extensive areas of Europe . In 1901 a United Kingdom Royal Commission concluded that cannabis was relatively harmless and not worth banning.
Cannabis sativa was classified in the 18th century by Carl von Linne. It was first admitted to western pharmacopoeias in the 1800s. In 1839 W.B. O’Shaghnessy at the Medical School of Calcutta observed its use in the indigenous treatment of various disorders and found that tincture of hemp was an effective analgesic, anticonvulsant and muscle relaxant. It was included in the British, United States and Indian Pharmacopoeias up to 1932, 1941 and 1966, respectively.
Ganja was brought to the West Indies in the middle 19th century by East Indian labourers who came primarily to Guyana, Trinidad and Jamaica. Up until the early years of the 20th century it was widely used as a folk medicine and did not appear to constitute a major social problem.
Clearly we can see that “medical cannabis” as being presented in parliament today is another misnomer. What is being brought before parliament today is a bill for “pharmaceutical cannabis”.
The AG said as reported in the Nation Newspaper, ‘I don’t think that the churches are against medicinal cannabis. The single treaty on narcotics, which is the 1969 United Nations Convention, exempts what would normally be illegal drugs, so long as the purpose is either medical or scientific,” A couple things strike me as curious with these statements. Firstly, “I don’t think that the churches are against medical cannabis”. Seeing that the AG does not seem to be positive on the view of the churches, I am guessing he is not aware of their view on the violation of the rights of Rastafari to use the plant within their spiritual practices. Secondly, this convention from whatever time until now! Are we that weak as a people that we cannot say that we will not be arresting our citizens for possession of small amounts of cannabis and cultivation? For the very least enact a moratorium on cannabis possession and cultivation arrests. How does this impact on anyone else if we are not exporting it? If the treaty is so much of a concern, then make it illegal to sell to non-nationals of the island. To continue persecution of Rastafari and other cannabis users under a draconian law, using the excuse of this treaty should have been a joke told in the comedy show recently held.
While we are busy entertaining African heads of state who are all aware of the present struggle against neo-colonialism, Barbadian heads of state cower before massa’s whip. Let your history be your guide. Marcus Garvey advised us then to look to the east for the coming of our salvation. I now say to you look again to the east, to the history of great leaders and lift yourself up.
On March 25, 1889, the Shewa ruler Menelik II—having conquered Tigray and Amhara, and with the support of Italy—declared himself Emperor of Ethiopia (Abyssinia in the European parlance of the time). Barely a month later, on May 2, he signed a treaty of amity with the Italians, which apparently gave them control over Eritrea, the Red Sea coast to the northeast of Ethiopia, in return for recognition of Menelik’s rule. In fact, the bilingual Treaty of Wuchale did not say the same thing in Italian and Amharic. The former text established an Italian protectorate over Ethiopia, which Menelik discovered soon afterwards. The Amharic version, however, merely stated that Menelik could contact foreign powers and conduct foreign affairs through Italy if he so chose. Italian diplomats, however, claimed that the original Amharic text included the clause and Menelik knowingly signed a modified copy of the Treaty
In 1893, when Menelik judged that his power over Ethiopia was consolidated, he repudiated the treaty, at which point the Italians ramped up the pressure in a variety of ways, including the annexation of small territories bordering their original claim under the Treaty of Wuchale, and finally culminating with a military campaign across the Mareb River into Tigray (on the border with Eritrea) in December 1894. The Italians expected disaffected potentates like Negus Tekle Haymanot of Gojjam, Ras Mengesha Yohannes, and the Sultan of Aussa to join them; instead, all of the ethnic Tigrayan or Amharic peoples flocked to the Emperor Menelik’s side in a display of both nationalism and anti-Italian feeling. Ethiopia defeated Italy.
We remain political prisoners of your unjust cannabis persecution and don’t careish attitudes towards thousands of Barbadians who like myself use the plant for our own personal reasons.
This bill today may very well be the commencement of a whole new wave of colonial influenced economic robbery of African descended people in Barbados. I see Barbadians in government but I am not seeing a Barbadian government.
Please be reminded that you are invited to the launch of the AHF’s Warri club, “Warri Warriors Barbados’ on Saturday 17th August from 3.30 pm – 5.00pm. Directly after the launch of “Warri Warriors Barbados” the AHF celebrates the birthday of Marcus Garvey. From 5.00pm – 6.30pm there will be several readings of Marcus Garvey speeches with discussions following. This activity will take place at the AHF’s headquarters at “Liberty House”, Two Mile Hill, St. Michael. Contact 260-4795 for any further information you may need.
From 6.30 until,you are invited to stay for a Garvey mix and mingle with a surprise activity for guest to take part in.
Click here for our FB event page. It is a family activity.