Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has asked CARICOM to consider decriminalization of medical marijuana but, he once rubbished the contribution of the drug to the local economy.
“There are some who say to me, ganja contributes significantly to the economy of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. To that, I say rubbish,” Gonsalves said some years ago.
“When they (dealers in marijuana) chop up and shoot up one another, where do they take them? To the hospital, where we have to employ skilled surgeons and nurses and provide the facilities in the operating theatre, and the medication, and the hospital care. That costs money, to which they contribute nothing,” Gonsalves further said.
He further said that because of the illegal trade in marijuana, the country has to spend more money on law enforcement and on its judicial and prison systems.
“And then, there is the good name of this country. I don’t want when my nationals go to Barbados or Trinidad or anywhere else, that the immigration officers say snidely, ‘So how the ganja going in St. Vincent?’ I have no interest in exporting ganja to Barbados,” Gonsalves further stated.
Last year, noting moves in the United States, Gonsalves asked CARICOM to discuss the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes.
Gonsalves is chair of CARICOM and medical marijuana is on the agenda for the CARICOM heads of government inter-sessional summit on Monday and Tuesday in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
In a recent interview, he told I-Witness News that there is “a healthy debate” taking place about the medical marijuana and this is what he had called for.
But he suggested that his government would not be prepared to make a unilateral decision to decriminalize marijuana, as Jamaica said it will do by the end of this year.
“It is very difficult to do it single state, particularly a state as small as St. Vincent and the Grenadines. But, if we do it as CARICOM, even if every country doesn’t do it at the same time but there is a decision that we can do it, it makes it easier for it to be done.
“For instance, we share experience with Jamaica. Jamaica is far advanced in terms of medical marijuana,” he told I-Witness News.
Marijuana is the single most important domestic and foreign cash crop in SVG and has been for over 25 years. The earnings from banana exports pale in significance by comparison. Marijuana sales have allowed poor young men who would otherwise be idle to earn a good living and built nice homes for themselves and their families. Many large and small businesses have benefited from the sale of building materials, furniture, and foodstuff to marijuana farmers. The earnings from marijuana also have allowed many growers to start small business enterprises of their own.
Since marijuana is a harmless substance compared to tobacco and alcohol, the net benefits have far outweighed the negatives listed by the PM. Indeed, all of these negatives have nothing to do with marijuana as such. They are all a product of the fact that it is illegal to grow, sell, and consume this beneficial and benign God-given plant.
By the way, marijuana was a legal substance almost all over the world for thousands of years until the end of the 19th century.
Wasn’t his original forte representing the heart and soul of our ganja trade people in our courts, ganja farmers, distributors and dealers? Hasn’t he derived a substantial income from those in the trade over the years?
By the way when I said courts I didn’t mean the store, I meant those places where they take our ganja farmers, distributors and dealers to decide if they are guilty of anything.
Even Gonsalves children played at the house of a convicted ganja man who is now in prison under the Gonsalves regime. You know who I mean, the man that said in the court that he gave ULP big sums of money. Vehemently denied by Cousin Francis. What was his name ‘Que Passa’ or some Spanish sounding name. He is said to be a very nice man, his mother said he just got mixed up in the wrong company, the wrong crowd. [I was going to say wrong party, but that would be most inappropriate so I wont]
If ganja is legalised will all people with drug convictions currently in jail be released or pardoned? It would be a little unfair to keep them banged up, even if they are less of a threat in there than out. Or will they stay and become political prisoners?
The PM made this statement few years ago since he is PM so he cannot say its because of youthful exuberance, like he said when he was reminded of how he called Vincent Beache a coconut bat or when he called the labour party supporters labour hags. So the question is. why is he now playing the point man on the road to decriminalisation of marijuana using medicinal purpose as a punch bag? Maybe its one of his usual wild ranting or could it be he is aiming at the population at large who he knows is using ganja as a means of survival? He is in the North Leeward constituency a lot these days along with his cousin Julian and NL is quite famous for its ganja cultivation. With the election drawing near and they are eyeing that seat maybe the reason for his about turn has to do with the politics of weed.
I haven’t got a clue as to what was going through my PM’s mind, when he made that unfortunate statement, because it was in no way a realistic one, and i do believe he knows better.
For decades marijuana has played, and will remain to play, wether legal or illegal, an important roll in keeping our economy afloat, especially with the fall of bananas, tourism, and this harsh global economic crisis we have been facing, for the past 6 or so years.
Comments are closed.