The African Heritage Foundation (AHF) reiterates its opinion that under the umbrella of medicinal cannabis, its indigenous usages can find shelter.
The AHF fully understands that the position of the government is to establish its medical cannabis industry and then act on decriminalization for recreational use, through a referendum.
As AHF members took council to reflect on the path that the Barbados government has presented for implementation, as it pertains to the legal introduction of cannabis into its society, what they concluded was:
- The overall sentiment of the average Barbadians is, as proposed the medical cannabis will not impact on the economic position of the average Barbadian. The concern is that while some Barbadians may have the opportunity to participate in the intended cannabis industry, it will never be large enough to facilitate the economic relief of the masses in the manner proposed. Any poor person that utilizes cannabis in their daily spiritual and health (including stress relief) regimes, will tell you that due to its illegality, cannabis is expensive and thus amounts to a hefty bill at the end of the week or month. The addition of cannabis within the proposed Medical Cannabis Bill 2019 under indigenous medicinal use will assist alleviate this bill for poor people. The saving of money from the purchase of cannabis from the illegal market will be translated into additional family revenue that can be utilized in a great number of ways. With all the austerity measures imposed on the people of Barbados as the government moves to address economic recovery for the island, some economic relief can be given to them in the manner suggested above.
- Great mention of the Jamaican model of rolling out their cannabis industry was placed on the table at the recently concluded, first sitting of The Joint Select Committee for the proposed Medical Cannabis Bill 2019. However it was not mentioned that one of the first steps Jamaica took in its legal cannabis reform, was to make the plant accessible to any Jamaican. This was done by allowing any Jamaican the right to possess two ounces and, or five plants of cannabis.
- The government is saying on one hand that an international treaty that they are signatory to prevents them from perusing legal cannabis in any other manner than medicinal. Yet it is being told to the people, that “recreational” use of cannabis will be determined by referendum. This creates a question in the minds of many people. If the people vote yes for recreational cannabis, what about the treaty?
- All companies must make available 30% of its company available to Barbadians. The AHF is thinking that average poor people would not be able to afford to purchase ownership of part of those companies. Cannabis if implemented in a people friendly manner can add to a strategic plan of poverty alleviation. If Cannabis is introduced to the Barbadian society from the top down then many of the Barbadians who will be involved in the industry, will do so at the level of hewers of water and drawers of stone.
- Putting poor people last is not a good look for the government. The economically poor people of Barbados are being asked to wait on the government to establish their medical cannabis industry before consideration in the form of a referendum is manifested to decide their fate. This does not inspire faith or trust in the government by the poor people of Barbados. It is unreasonable to seek the support of the masses when they are kept criminals in the society and thus constantly arrested and convicted by law enforcement. Many times this situation leads to cries of police brutality and injustice.
- Establishing the standardization of cannabis for medical use is not a bad idea. Creating an industry that can financially assist the island is also a good move by the government.
- Should the government be unwilling to include cannabis in its Medical Cannabis Bill 2019, the AHF is suggesting to the government once more that it establishes a moratorium on cannabis arrest for persons in possession of cannabis weighing under an ounce in public. This cannabis amnesty must extend to the cultivation of 5 cannabis plants in a persons private residence.
The AHF sealed its council by noting that the Government has repeatedly said that it has been consulting with the Rastafari community as it rolls out its medical cannabis initiative. The AHF can positively say that Minister Weir has made himself totally accessible to it as a pan – African organization that has the interest of Rastafari and all marginalized people in mind, heart and soul. However it must be noted by the government that the main Rastafari grouping that it has chosen by government to represent that community, in a press release recently stated that they do not stand to gain significantly from the proposed Medical Cannabis Industry as it is presently being rolled out. While appreciative of the land to facilitate food security for their community, they will be hard pressed to develop themselves in any meaningful manner when they are kept criminals by your law in this society.
THE TIME FOR JUSTICE IS ALWAYS NOW! WHEN WILL THE REFERENDUM COME? WILL IT BE IN A MONTH, TWO, THREE, A YEAR, TWO, THREE, WHEN? HOW LONG MUST WE WAIT?
African Heritage Foundation.
You are invited to the AHF’s “Red Light” reggae house lime on Saturday the 21st September from 7pm -12am. Please see poster for more information. Thanks much.