With Jamaica set to become the first Caribbean island to legalise marijuana, the debate on this issue gets even more poignant and relevant to Barbados. Citing the real economic, social and cultural benefits that legalisation would offer Jamaica, key officials in the campaign to legalise marijuana also stated in the media that Jamaica could not afford to be left behind on this issue. For details on the full story please see the link below.
At the time of this debate, raging not only in the region, but also most notably in the U.S., Barbados is struggling to restructure its tourism led economy and it has been suggested that the legalisation of marijuana could aid in the future sustainable development of Barbados. How valid is this thesis? I argue not very.
In an effort to defend my point I will look at the aforementioned areas that have been earmarked for positive growth in Jamaica, albeit within a Barbadian paradigm. These categories are economic, social and cultural.
- Culturally: While in the case of Brand Jamaica where marijuana has been inextricably linked to this island's island charm i.e. heaven on earth anti-establishment, Barbados, or at least the veneer of Barbados has been quite the opposite. The legalisation of marijuana in Jamaica fits the place, the perception, the brand so much so that you would have always thought that it was legal. Even though Barbados has its own island charm, albeit quaint Church of England outpost, the legalisation of marijuana goes counter to the veneer of Barbados. Please note I say veneer. Barbados is the republic of veneerism- what you see is never what you get because truth be told, drugs as it is right now in Barbados, permeates every facet of society. Therefore, the disparity that is likely to be seen in Brand Barbados and its 'innovative' move towards the legislation of marijuana is going to be problematic at least in the way that Barbados is sold to the world.
- Socially- This one is a doozie. A real big one too. I don't know how else to say it, but I don't believe that Barbados could benefit socially from the legalisation of marijuana but for the simple reason that Barbadians don't have that kind of maturity. I am sure that if it were to be legalised such considerations would be taken into account and with that process frameworks constructed to mitigate the social fall out. But, that is highly unlikely to be effective. Once legalised, it almost certainly sends a signal to all the sub-cultures in Barbados that support the drug culture, and Lord knows there are many, that they have a solid ground on which to stand and to flourish. But come to think of it, they already do? I say this in reference to my own experience, whereby this sub-culture behaves with the point of view that they can do whatever they feel like and everyone else just has to live with it. As a result, I shudder at the kind of indifferent attitude to people's dignity, sense of self, privacy and worth that will be, sadly, par the course. And for those who argue that by legalising it the undesirable behaviours and mentality that characterises the drug world would be lost, I say go f... yourself. Seriously. With legislation comes legitimacy, which they already feel that they have; so I don't know why legislation is necessary anyways. By legalising it, these sub-groups have the pugnacious authority to say "I am right and you, are wrong." And here is where I claim Barbadians to be immature. The differing points of view will not be respected but will be used to draw battle lines and identify 'enemies'. Too dramatic? Maybe so, because as we go on to look at the economic impact, how could I possibly be so naive to think that there would be opposing, conflicting sides- after all, everyone wants to make a buck!
- Economy- Now it is this category, that I suppose most would argue for the legalisation of marijuana in Barbados. Money. I suppose that that there would be some kind of benefit seen in this area. But how much? I don't think that much, at least not on John Public's level. On a macro level, I don't even think that trade would be that robust. Competing with the likes of Brand Jamaica and the other Caribbean islands, I am not sure that Barbados has that kind of clout for a good product. Mind you, the most noteworthy aspect of this diagnosis is not in quality but in the word trade. Let's face facts Barbados is not going to legalise even with Jamaica attempting to do so, until lucrative trade partners i.e. America, Canada and England create the kind of legal and economic framework for trade. Without these partners, legalising it for macro economic gain makes no sense. And on this level only a few stand to gain. The wealthy land owners and distributors would have some kind of monopoly on the marijuana trade. As for John Public, this means that you remain where and as you are, consumer and worker. Even on some kind of a small neighbourhood level, which I suppose you could make some inroads financially, that kind of enterprise would be almost impossible to grow to a size where you really make the big bucks. And these are not my words, President Obama in an interview with Jack Tapper on CNN argued that the legalisation of marijuana would not be an overnight economic answer to millions of Americans, but only to an elite few who have, today, the money and the resources to start robust trade. I argue this point fully aware that as someone on the outside of the drug world, the systems used to reward people working in it are not known to me. And that therefore, this argument may be as misinformed as it is weak. Nonetheless, if America gets its act together and legalises it, rest assured we will be like a colony outpost supplying labour and resources to help their marijuana trade.
- The only way we can make such inroads economically is through research and development and by extension medicinal marijuana. The Caribbean is an incredible place for health tourism. The convalescing can find a real life paradise in the Caribbean while recovering. But in the drug world, convalescing has different degrees, including bored, horny and heck, I got the money, so why the heck not. But if for one moment we took the word for its intended meaning, for health tourism to happen, Barbados would have to pump substantial dollars, almost to the detriment of its main foreign exchange earner, tourism, into the research and development of the different strains of marijuana and their medicinal properties. Would the government of Barbados be willing to introduce tertiary level programs in marijuana to facilitate research and development? Florida is doing it right now, and it is not even legal in that state to smoke marijuana. University courses are being offered to students in Florida who are interested in the area, with the hope that when it does become legal, that America would be in a lead position to grow, trade and offer alternative medical treatments.
If research and development is taken up by the government of Barbados for the growing of marijuana, then I am sorry to be the proverbial wet blanket, but to do so would come but three generations too late when we should have been already agriculturally sustainable. What is the point in putting all your effort into marijuana when we are at a point in our history when we can't feed ourselves?
But for some strange reason, though I do believe that if marijuana is legalised in Barbados, that our import bill will be drastically reduced...if you know what I mean. So maybe it would be a welcome impact.
With that said for those who don't care for this argument, only the right to use marijuana for their own stress relieving, recreational activities, my advice to you is, hold a tree and wuk-up. I can almost guarantee that it is the most stress relieving thing you can do living under the clearest of clear blue skies in the beautiful Caribbean island of Barbados.
Petra Marie…Inspired Be