Marijuana Co-op Under Discussion

Cannabis Movement Awaits Decriminalization

THE Cannabis Movement of St. Lucia is exploring the possibility of forming a co-operative for marijuana farmers on the island, hoping that the herb will be decriminalized sooner rather than later.

But if, or when established, it will be jealously guarding the interest of its members who were brutalized and ostracized for using what they described as a “sacred” herb.

A few weeks ago, the movement held a meeting in Vieux Fort with interested persons and representatives of the co-operatives department, which the organisation described as fruitful.

In an interview with this reporter, president of the Cannabis Movement of St. Lucia, Andre deCaires, who is pursuing the matter with vigour , said the co-operative will help bridge the gap between the rich and poor, adding that this was a big issue in St. Lucia.

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He said those people, such as Rastafarians and the “ghetto youth”, who have been brutalized by the police for cultivating and smoking marijuana will have their fair share of benefits from the co-operative when formed.

“Those people who hate Rastafarians will throw their hat in the ring when they see there are benefits for them in the co-operative…We don’t want people with big money to take over the business,” he said.

According to deCaires, anyone will be allowed to join the co-operative, providing he or she adheres to its strict rules and regulations.

He said there will be rules guiding the cultivation of the herb, stating that there will be a limit to the number of plants a member will be allowed to plant.

According to him, this will avoid some people from enjoying an unfair advantage over others who have already paid the price for cultivating the plant.

“The ghetto people will now be given an opportunity to change their lives and earn a living,” deCaires said.

He said in the Caribbean, Jamaica had taken the lead as it relates to making cannabis a product with economic and medical value, and St. Lucia should now follow suit.

deCaires said the campaign for the formation of a co-operative has just begun and will be intensified in the coming months.

Brunet “Bongo Wisely” Sealy, another member of the Cannabis Movement of St. Lucian described the initiative as a positive one which should be pursued aggressively.

He emphasized that the co-operative will have measures in place to ensure that the “small man” is protected from the influence of unscrupulous businessmen who may try to reap all the gains from their (small man’s) efforts.

“We can’t allow mafias to come and reap all the benefits. This will be unfair to the small man who society has been “fighting down” for many years because of using the herb.

According to Sealy, when the co-operative is formed, marijuana will not be cultivated anywhere, but only in designated areas, under strict supervision.

He identified one of their major challenges as it relates to the formation of the co-operative as the refusal of CARICOM to take a unilateral position on the issue of the decriminalization of marijuana.

Another challenge he identified was the reluctance of certain people who smoked or cultivated marijuana to show their faces in a public forum on matters relating to the decriminalization of the herb. “They are afraid that they will be targeted by police, who will always be after them, preventing them from earning a living,”, Sealy said.

By: Kingsley Emmanuel

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