This morning as I sat in meditation and contemplation, I was given the inspiration to write this article in the form of a story.
The tail/tale I twist, as a cannabis activist, is of a train, to be more precise the “Cannabis Train”. This was a mighty, beautiful train that many people rode for various reasons many, many years ago before cannabis injustice came into the world.
Many people rode the “Cannabis Train” to get to work every morning despite all manner of obstacles that were presented to them each day. A good word or two from the train engineer would make a hard day’s work tolerable, and on the off, enjoyable. Commuters on the “Cannabis Train” included elderly people who were on the way to and from the market where they got their herbs. These herbs were in turn used to make traditional (home remedies) medicinal applications and given to family, friends and the wider community.
On the list of stops the Cannabis Train made, was the “Spiritual and Meditation Center”. Here many would stop off each day to pay homage and give thanks for life as they sought justice and peaceable coexistence for all. It is a place that music fills the air and spirits soar with a greater hope, for a greater tomorrow. The “Cannabis Train” was so popular that many took it to their places of recreational activities. For some it was sports, for others relaxing at the beaches, parks and other places that bring a person closer with nature. Of course the “Cannabis Train” stopped at parties and fetes. Almost everyone of adult age rode the “Cannabis Train” to one destination or the other.
Operating on just about every continent and country in the world, the “Cannabis Train” traveled straight past class and colour prejudices. Kings and commoners, politicians and peasants, police and criminals, friends and foes all rode the “Cannabis Train”.
A terrorist attack on the “Cannabis Train’ in 1923 would be the beginning of the end for the “Cannabis Train’. In 1923, the Canadian prime minister William Lyon Mackenzie King’s Liberal government introduced an Act to Prohibit the Improper Use of Opium and other Drugs. At the time, the only drugs on the schedule were opium, morphine, cocaine and eucaine (a local anesthetic first introduced as a substitute for cocaine). The new bill added three drugs to the proscribed list: heroin, codeine and “cannabis indica (Indian hemp) or hasheesh.”
The only mention of the proposed changes to the schedule was recorded on April 23, when Federal Health Minister Beland told the House of Commons, “There is a new drug in the schedule.” Beland was referring to cannabis when he said there was “a new drug,” because in the government’s view, “the other two are extensions of other products that had already been added to the schedule.”
Police estimated 2,000 people gathered on the lawns of Parliament Hill for the marijuana rally in Ottawa on April 20. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)
The next month, on May 3, when it was the Senate’s turn to review the legislation, Raoul Dandurand, the Liberal government’s leader in the Senate, told his colleagues, “There is only one addition to the schedule: Cannabis Indica (Indian Hemp) or hasheesh.” And, in what may be the most detailed account of these 1923 events, the authors of the 1991 book Panic and Indifference: The Politics of Canada’s Drug Laws, state that the health department’s narcotic division’s files contain a draft of the bill that does not include cannabis. There are also several carbon copies, and to one of them was added, “Cannabis Indica (Indian Hemp) or hasheesh.”
It seems no one knows who added that phrase, or ordered it added. But both the House and the Senate agreed to the additions without any discussion.
The major report of the era on cannabis, seven volumes in length, was the Britain’s Indian Hemp Drugs Commission report, published in 1894. It states, “Moderate use practically produces no ill effects,” according to the report, and the evidence the commission heard “shows most clearly how little injury society has hitherto sustained from hemp drugs.”
Since that time many people have continued to use private cannabis transportation which is still illegal here in Barbados. The destinations people desire to travel in cannabis comfort have not changed, but the train has gone underground.
Announcements have been made that the Cannabis Train will be revived under the banner of medicine. While many who have only now gathered a little cannabis consciousness through their quest for economic attainment rejoice at their financial prospects, the indigenous engineers of the “Cannabis Train” continue to run the real train underground as no consideration for them is being seen at present.
Further to this Cannabis commuters continue to ride the Cannabis underground railway as the new proposed “ Barbados Medical Cannabis Train” bypasses the stops spoken of earlier in the article, and makes its first stop in the communities of the wealthy and then from there to Pharmaceutical Ave.
The African Heritage Foundation continues to rise its voice of cannabis justice and suggests that the Ministers responsible for cannabis movements in Barbados, include the holistic use of Cannabis and allow Barbadians to grow a couple plants in their backyards for personal consumption. This effectively allows persons to make use of the roots, leaves, flowers, seeds and stems of the plant in indigenous ways. The home production of teas, oils, tinctures, washes and so forth will result from cannabis justice for all.
The top down cannabis approach the Barbados government is taking, does not instill much trust in them by us the cannabis originals. The true cannabis criminals are not morally moved by the fact that while millions of dollars are expected to be made from Medicinal/Pharmaceutical cannabis , the people remain criminalized for possession of any amount of cannabis or any hint of cultivation including the possession of one seed.
I am still running from the police Mr. Minister, tell me when I can stop. Tell me when justice has caught up to me. Tell Me When!
Research on Canadian cannabis history from CBC an article written by Daniel Schwartz.
African Heritage Foundation