Subject: Support Cannabis Legalization in Barbados

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Paul Rock
Paul Rock signed this petition

The African Heritage Foundation writes this petition in favour of having cannabis legalized, regulated and taxed within a recreational and religious usage framework on the basis of the following:

The Findings of the CARICOM Regional Commission on Marijuana

1. In 2018 the CARICOM Regional Commission on marijuana found, after four years of research that upon “analysis of the comprehensive information gathered indicates that the current legal regime for cannabis/ marijuana, characterised as it is by prohibition and draconian criminal penalties, is ineffective, incongruous, obsolete and deeply unjust.

2. The CARICOM Regional Commission on marijuana found unanimity “in its view that the current classification for cannabis/ marijuana as a ‘dangerous drug’ with ‘no value’ or narcotic, should be changed to a classification of cannabis as a ‘controlled substance’” and “can no longer be accurately classified in law as a dangerous drug with ‘no medicinal or other value’.

3. The Regional Commission also noted that, “while usage of cannabis / marijuana for purposes other than medicinal is often referred to as ‘recreational’, … cannabis / marijuana is proven to have therapeutic properties, as a stress reliever, so that the term ‘recreational’ is somewhat of a misnomer, since it ignores the mental health issues in this paradigm.

Negative Consequences of criminalisation in the absence of evidence to justify such:

4. Our prison system houses a prisoner at approximately $85.68 per day. It makes for a drain on the tax payers of Barbados when an individual is held and then prosecuted through the system, sometimes for quantities worth $5 and $10.

5. Marijuana is as much a recreational drug as alcohol, tobacco and even coffee, which are all legal.

6. Research coming for nation states that have legalized cannabis for recreational use has shown:
a. a decline in violent and property crimes;
b. no increase in usage by young persons;
c. a decrease in alcohol use by young persons.
d. accidents attributed to impaired driving have not risen in states that have legalized cannabis for recreational use

For more information, see the following:
* https://www.forbes.com/sites/mikeadams/2018/04/05/binge-drinking-rates-drop-in-states-with-recreational-marijuana-laws/amp/;
* https://www.telesurenglish.net/amp/news/Crime-Rate-Drops-but-Uruguay-Struggles-with-Illicit-Sale-of-Cannabis-to-Tourists-20180113-0015.html;
* https://amp.theguardian.com/world/2018/jan/14/legal-marijuana-medical-use-crime-rate-plummets-us-study;
* https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/articles/2019-02-15/marijuana-policies-not-associated-with-increased-teen-use-study-says?context=amp

7. Existing laws governing prohibition have persecuted and criminalised user and at times non-user through profiling, particularly low-income earners and Rastafari persons, resulting in many cases in a negative domino effect on their lives.

Criminalisation violates rights to freedom of religion of the Rastafari Community:

8. The United Nations General Assembly on the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion of Belief states:
• Article 1: Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have a religion or whatever belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching."

9. Within the constitution of Barbados there are protections against freedom of conscience, namely section 19 (1) (6), which states:

Except with his own consent, no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of conscience and for the purpose of this section the said freedom includes freedom of thought and of religion, freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others, and both public and in private, to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.

Nothing contained in or done under the authority of any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of this section to the extent that the law in question makes provision."


Conclusion:
The current cannabis laws exaggerate crime levels. The illegality of cannabis creates an environment that connects the supply and use of cannabis to criminal activity. However, it is time for the government to realise that this is mainly due to the fact that prohibition has converted cannabis into an illicit-market driver for nefarious activity. Furthermore, this prohibition and the unregulated structure encourages easy access by adolescents due to the excitement that the prohibition of a thing has on a child’s rebellious curiosity

We therefore call on the Government of Barbados to legalize, regulate and tax cannabis within a recreational and religious usage framework on the basis.