IN THE PUBLIC’S INTEREST: A growing weed culture
Weed, grass, pot, ganja, chronic, reefer, dope, cannabis or just plain old marijuana – whatever you choose to call it, the big question today is: Have law enforcement agencies and lawmakers in Barbados lost the battle to keep it from going mainstream?
Has the Barbadian society reached the tipping point where there is more support for its recreational use than there is for its continued classification as illegal and its use as criminal?
Now, let me confess up front that I cannot speak to its benefits or harmful impact on me directly since I have never taken a puff from a joint or spliff or whatever it is called these days. Never once!
However, I will admit that once while attending a Crop Over Cavalcade at the Belleplaine pasture in St Andrew, the youngsters were puffing away with such impunity that by the time I left, I felt like it was walking in high-heeled shoes. That might have been the impact of second-hand smoke, but I can’t swear.
What I am absolutely sure about, however, is that our lawmen are fighting a very one-sided battle to keep ganja out of our homes, our schools, our places of entertainment, and just about everywhere the young and the not so young congregate.
And I say I am sure because it is not hard to recognise that there are a growing number of young people in particular who consider themselves law-abiding, who will confess to friendships with lawmen, who will cooperate with the cops in just about every type of investigation, but do not feel compelled in even the slightest way to maintain that stance in relation to ganja.
But why is this important enough to engage my attention at this time? The answer is very simple. Even though I have recognised for some time the growing tolerance for the drug within the society, even among those who will swear they don’t smoke it and have no desire to, I was literally blown away by the number of and passion behind comments from readers reacting to the photograph we published last Thursday of marijuana trees impounded by police in two raids.
Of the scores of emails received, I recall only one that was not critical of the police, and that writer was not opposed to marijuana per se, but spoke more to the view that the cops should be allowed to do their job unmolested until the law is changed.
Here’s a sample of the comments:
“With all the missing persons and mystery weapons, this is what you find!?”
“Lol…..it’s the search for missing people that makes the popo find these stashes.”
“I know men that family and cars ain’t get find yet and the police is doing gardening.”
“Barbados needs to get with the rest of the world and legalize pot. If liquor can b legal y not pot. Get with the program, it’s about time.”
“Before them go look for all the guns!”
“6 states in America is making this thing legal if not already, Europe has made it legal in some countries, the UK are considering making it legal? And with 36 confirmed cancer fighting agents?? This is the biggest news you have….”
“It’s the fact that it’s hard to tax, hence the reason England hasn’t legalised it. Let’s face it, alcohol is 200 times more dangerous but I’m sure the government is sipping their rum right now.”
“We better get wid the time and see a market opportunity and ease in….”
“They should better look 4 the bad boys. Searching 4 all the guns r better than searching 4 ganja.”
“Legalize d ganja.”
“Would be more impressed if they found illegal firearms instead *Stupes* Next!!!”
“Leave de weed, go after the guns. Too many guns in de island.”
“We will be the last to realise that we can earn money from this”
“Oh no lawd, save us, they’re killer plants. Stupse, all these cops seem to be good for is gardening and making my life miserable for ridiculous traffic stops.”
“Think people are referring to other pressing matters that seem to go neglected by the force but yet they find time for gardening.”
“Police can’t find a whole human nor the trillion guns that in Bim but can find weed trees … sad.”
“Ohh look at this beauty growing in Barbados.”
“That sickening me stewpz den is to look fa guns DOA….. How much murders/homicides waeva that happen just between June-middle of August thus far or should I say over the last 10 weeks…. and them hunting fa weed wen ppl families hurting no matter if the person was ‘good’ r ‘bad’.”
“Look like Christmas trees to me.”
“Wasting time, energy and resources and as usual, we’re 20 years behind the legalization and decriminalization going on in more enlightened parts of the world.”
“Let people grow and smoke their thing in peace nuh.”
“Wunna aint got no jobs for people and trying to stop people from feeding themselves. A man planting a end of weed in the bush spends that money in Barbados. Talk bout and check for the wonderful job the current government is doing.”
Perhaps it is time for some scientific survey to be done to determine just how widespread the support for the decriminalisation of marijuana is. Don’t get me wrong because I am not supporting the call, not on the basis of information available – or lack of information. But for the sake of our law enforcement personnel and the maintenance of law and order in our country, we are only going to fully appreciate what we must do and how we must do it if we have solid data to go by.
In a sense, too, I believe we are putting our police officers in a difficult situation if we don’t approach this issue systematically, because with a growing number of people showing anger when the police uproot these marijuana plants, it is very unlikely they will cooperate with cops when they go into the same districts seeking assistance with other investigations.
When school resumes in just over a week, scores of children will return to the classroom having already smoked a spliff or two before the bell rang – both boys and girls. When teachers and guidance counsellors engage our youth, they will find a growing number who openly declare they see nothing wrong with smoking ganja.
Among these will be an increasing number who were born into homes where marijuana is grown in buckets in the yard and smoking a spliff while watching television is as common as drinking a Sprite or Coke. The traditional approach of “It’s wrong to smoke marijuana” will not work on them. They are going to be the most vocal in opposition to the eradication exercises of lawmen.
It’s time for a scientific, systematic, sensible approach to this matter. The emotionalism and Bible-thumping have not worked.