MINISTER for National Security and Justice, Hermangild Francis, has made the statement that will surely come as music to the ears of supporters of the decriminalisation of marijuana.
In an interview with The VOICE last week, Francis admitted that the crime rate would see a sharp decline should legislation on the illegal herb be relaxed.
The Justice Minister admitted that numerous young lives have been ruined because of arrests for small quantities of marijuana, including the case where one individual was shot by police in January, only to be discovered with a “five bag” in his possession. It was later revealed that the individual only ran away from the police because he was scared of them.
Francis said: “These sorts of things will take away the idea of the middlemen, people who buy big bulks of marijuana to sell, and then they have this big money and can control the young people to go and do crimes and so on.”
The Minister said he wants the law to be changed so that a child under age 16 who is caught with the herb cannot be penalised.
He said he would like to see the same applied if an adult is caught with small amounts, namely a “five bag”, whereby they will not be penalised or reprimanded.
Francis said that although he has never smoked before, his stance on marijuana has led to him being labelled as the “Marijuana Minister”.
Speaking of his past days serving in the police force, Francis said he refused to arrest young men found with marijuana and, in his entire career, he only made one arrest, later requesting that the individual be pardoned.
Francis also said the Force should throw out its strict appearance codes which prohibit officers to grow their hair or wear dreadlocks.
He said: “These are things that should have gone by the wayside a long time ago.”
Marrying the idea with relaxed marijuana legislation, Francis said: “We need to now have people sit down in the ghettos puffing and stuff. That’s one of the reasons why when it comes to marijuana, I want to make the legislation more user-friendly.”
He continued: “You have to think outside of the box. You can’t do policing like we did in the 1930s, like my father and the likes, who used to pound the beat and all things like that. No, that has gone.”
He spoke of the use of vice officers who go deep undercover, adding that it has to come to a point where officers should be allowed to grow dreads so that they could easily blend in. He said he has also made a suggestion to the police commissioner with regards to sending individuals to receive intense training both in Barbados and in the U.S. to train with the FBI so that they could come back home to apply their valuable investigative and counter-intelligence skills towards curbing the island’s crime problem.