In 2015, Jamaica became the first Caribbean nation to legalize cannabis for medical, therapeutic, and scientific purposes. It must be noted that medicinal and therapeutic have separate classifications for cannabis usage within their industry.
Medicinal is defined as , “of or pertaining to the practice of medicine’, while therapeutic is defined as, ” of, or relating to therapy”. In Barbados the therapeutic use of cannabis has not been explored, even though there is a location for places that cannabis patients can go to use the plant. I think they are calling them “therapeutic clinics”. The therapeutic practices of meditation include techniques such as listening to the breath, repeating a mantra, or detaching from the thought process, to focus the attention and bring about a state of self awareness and inner calm. Cannabis use will assist with meditational practices. There are both cultic and non-cultic forms, the latter developed for clinical or research use. The relaxation and reduction of stress that are claimed to result from meditation may have prophylactic and therapeutic health benefits, and a plethora of research papers purport to show this.
Jamaica’s cannabis industry, which has attracted international interest, has been challenged. Jamaica’s industry is still waiting on export rules, which were promised last April, and the COVID-19 pandemic has not helped much either. Norman Dunn, State Minister in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce stated that there was a need for a candid conversation about cannabis because “it gives us the ability to discuss openly and freely about an industry which has been in the dark for a very long time.” He also noted that global policies have affected the development of Jamaica’s cannabis economy. The United Nations placed cannabis in the most restrictive category of its main global drug control treaty, the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, decades ago, Dunn said, and “it placed into motion all that has transpired all these years for this particular product called ganja.”
Those of us following international cannabis developments will recall that in December 2020, during its reconvened 63rd Session in Vienna, Austria, the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs held a vote on World Health Organization recommendations that placed the debate over cannabis as medicine under a global focus . While six cannabis-related recommendations were up for a vote, only one narrowly passed, and it suggested that cannabis be rescheduled in such a way that it is considered a medicine.
So what is the truth and where do we go from here? The truth is that the Barbados Cannabis Licensing Authority while taking its time has gotten it fundamentally wrong. It’s time that Barbados calls on its Prime Minister to intervene in this conundrum, and have a candid, honest, and probably difficult conversation with the Barbadian public on what is wrong with the framework of the Barbados Medicinal Cannabis Industry from their perspective, and why they have ignored the indigenous use and user for all these years.
People who have familiarized themselves with the history of the prohibition of cannabis would know that it started not with the UN, but with the United States of America, and it’s decision to pass the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, effectively banning cannabis.
The United States of America is always seen, in most cases, as a dominant business partner in the world. In most cases, it instructs on how the world moves. Therefore, that event in 1937 set off a series of cannabis prohibition laws globally that have stifled the development of the cannabis plant that has meant so much to so many people. Rastafari brothers and sisters internationally were, and in Barbados, still persecuted, literally, for using the plant.
Although we understand how difficult it is for lawmakers and regulators to create localized cannabis policies that are in dissonance with international policies, it must be done. That being said, we cannot undervalue the importance of our international obligations because Barbados still needs to have secure footing on the world stage. We cannot operate in a vacuum, therefore, it is international obligations that we have already signed on to that still mean something for the credibility of Barbados. How Barbados will maneuverer itself through this maze of cannabis racism, injustice, colonialism and abject wickedness will be crucial, because that’s what it’s going to take for us to be a part of that multibillion dollar industry, while ushering cannabis justice unto its people..
The TVET Council Barbados’ work of developing of accreditation and conformity skills curricula to be taught within the country’s cannabis industry is very important to help it “grow and develop.
Simon Roberts, chair of the Jamaica National Agency for Accreditation (JANAAC), said that Jamaica was the only Caribbean signatory to the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation Mutual Recognition of Arrangements, which “increases the acceptance of products across national borders and eliminates the need for additional testing and or inspection of imports and exports, thus reducing technical barriers to trade.”
While cannabis is not yet allowed for adult, traditional medicinal or recreational/therapeutic, use in Barbados, many, many people know that liberty and civil liberty is important.
Just as with alcohol, adult Barbadians must be allowed the freely choose to use the cannabis plant or not.
Ras Simba Akoma for Cannabis Barbados
You are invited to join Cannabis Barbados (CB) and get involved with the movement for “just cannabis reform” on the island. Call or WhatsApp 260 4795 for your membership form. CB members pay dues of $20 monthly. This money is used to facilitate all CB initiatives.