The legalization of marijuana is a hot topic, with many wondering what exactly is the government’s position on its legalization, particularly as other islands in the region have already taken steps to move toward the legalization of certain aspects relating to the use of ‘ganja’ including for religious, medical, and recreational purposes.
Where this topic is concerned, one may wonder when exactly the shift occurred – in the past, the use and sale of marijuana was generally frowned upon not only by law enforcement, but by those in the upper echelons of society. Boys on the block would be thrown into jail, or at least into the back of a police van for daring to wrap, roll, or smoke ‘a blunt’ in public. Smoking weed was considered by many something reserved for ‘ghetto yutes’, college kids, Rastafarians, and generally people of a more rebellious nature, never mind their social standing.
Locally, advocates for the legalization of marijuana have been largely ignored over the years in their appeals pertaining to its legalization. That is until now. In the last few years the push towards ‘freeing up the herb’ has intensified, largely propelled by big companies wanting to profit off all the spin off industries and products now being promoted, and industries and people wanting to capitalize on the true ‘healing of a nation’ for its widespread health benefits.
While in some quarters experts have urged cautious, comprehensive and fact-based legalization, here in the Caribbean it would seem what obtains is a race to see who can legalize it first. Some of the concerns that have been expressed include the effect and impact of cloned marijuana seeds and plants (some already on the market), the potential danger to children, and the present and future realities of those who have previously been incarcerated for possession or sale of marijuana. There are many other concerns, but in terms of the latter, people want to know, what will become of the ones who paid the ultimate price and had their lives turned upside down in the days before its legalization? In the same way that descendants of slaves from Africa have for years called for reparations for slavery, will these people now have grounds to call for compensation of their unjust incarceration?
Government representatives spoke about this recently, with at least one Minister, Lenard Montoute, speaking in support of the records of young people charged or incarcerated for using marijuana being wiped clean.
As this story continues to unfold, we can be assured that it will surely be an interesting one to watch!