Walking with heads high from the pot
Our Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs Adriel Brathwaite,
when it comes to legal utterances –– or prattlerances –– does the la-dida.
And at the end of his absurd palaver we are no wiser; at best, we arebemused and bewildered.
The Attorney General lets us know –– again –– that Barbados hasnot lost the war against the illegal drug of marijuana, and as such the Government has no intention of joining in any conversation about its legalization here just because it is fashionable. In fact, Mr Brathwaite’s pronouncement at that point, last Sunday at a post-church service Press conference, was just slightly less positive than an earlier declaration that the Freundel Stuart administration would not be legalizing the use of the drug any time soon.
Of course, the call for the decriminalizing of marijuana use is nothing really distinctive or earth-shattering. People, including some Rastafarians (for its extolled holiness), have been pleading for its legalization since the 1970s; and, of late, some Barbadian doctors have been promoting its medicinal value and benefit.
And we have had our share of liberal highbrows making a strong case for marijuana decriminalization and general use, despite that the herb –– for all its acclaimed medicinal magic –– is yet shown by other minds to impair logical thinking and benumb the brain, making users lethargic and unproductive.
Which may all be stupefying for the Attorney General himself, since at the same Sunday Press conference he can renege to a position where “we will not as a country move in the direction of legalizing marijuana until we have done all the research, and weighed all the pros and cons”.
Dithering as usual, Mr Brathwaite tells us: “I am not saying we will move one way or the other . . . .”
Well, what are you saying, Mr Attorney General? “I am saying we will not [succumb?] because it is fashionable or because our neighbours next door have lost the fight . . . .” For sure, we have to move one way or the other. Take to Prime
Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves would-be espoused CARICOM theory on marijuana decriminalization; adopt the Jamaica personal pot use approach; be bamboozled by some American states’ capitulation to marijuana sale and usage while the United States Drug Enforcement Administration agents still pursue marijunana dealers in other countries; or simply stand out from the madding crowd.
Which brings us back to another social argument for marijuana’s decriminalization. Proponents say prosecution of spliff users, plant growers and distributors takes up much police and court time, and that the legalization of the drug would free up police officers to prevent and seek out far more serious crimes –– like murder –– and ease the backlog of court cases, and just as well reduce the number of people in our jails.
Additionally, the pot proponents argue, in these hard economic times legalized marijuana and its use could raise millions in tax revenue –– like from the drinking of beer, rum, vodka and whisky. Furthermore, legalized use would eliminate the gangs and turf battles, for any shop, minimart or supermarket could now sell pot. Is this the terrain of research our
Attorney General proposes to venture upon? Indeed, what shall come of our puzzlement, Mr Attorney General, and your apparent discombobulation?
Shall we wander like the state leaders of America, caught between double-speak and marijuana smoke billows? Or shall we stand firm, buoyed by conviction and common sense?
We ask too: how is a Minister of Home Affairs so deeply concerned about the increased number of young users of marijuana in Barbados, yet would remotely consider the pros of its usage?
Regrettably, this unsettling imagery of confused thought and undetermined judgement call will presage only the throwing of the arms up in the air, inertia and helplessness of our political leadership, and a yawning frustration of those of us who would rather walk healthily and decisively within the law.