by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada
- People should lobby for the legalisation or decriminalisation of the use of marijuana in Grenada
- Use of marijuana hemp to make a variety of products could be economically beneficial
An open statement by Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell has found favour with cannabis activist, Syisha Williams, member of the Grenada Herbal Foundation which he says has opened up an avenue to have that much-needed national dialogue on the subject of legalising cannabis.
The Prime Minister publicly stated recently that more emphasis should be placed on more serious crimes by law enforcement rather than apprehending someone with small quantities of marijuana. This was a slight deviation from his former personal and political stance regarding the subject.
Despite Williams believing that the prime minister’s statement may have been taken out of context by the general public, he believes there may be some light at the end of the tunnel with the recent passing of legislation in the United States and Canada to either decriminalise marijuana, or to legalise both the recreational and industrial use of the plant.
Williams is of the view that people wishing to see the legalisation or at least the decriminalisation of the use of marijuana in Grenada, should use the opportunity to lobby for this cause.
Speaking exclusively with NOW Grenada, Williams, who is also a member of the Rastafarian community, is of the view that if any politician in Grenada makes the bold move to legalise cannabis, they will go down in history as probably one of the greatest leaders that Grenada has ever had, since this will be Grenada’s only way to be truly financially independent.
“The Prime Minister is only one human being, and he can only do so much unless the people get up and support him, so if we are not going to do the necessary work to make his job easier, it could be another 10-15 years before that happens. We also have to take into account it’s a job in terms of being a politician. So if a politician takes up a particular position on a subject that is not palatable, and the voters reject me – in Grenada because of how small we are, this could mean I don’t get a job again ever, so the prime minister has to be careful how he addresses this subject.”
Williams is also of the view that the conversation surrounding the economic benefits of marijuana has not been placed in its proper context since it has only centred upon the recreational and medicinal purposes of the plant. Hence the reason why the movement to legalise marijuana has not gotten traction in Grenada, since the masses who either do not support its legalisation or who may not be confident to defend their position on the subject, have not been properly educated on how they can benefit from its many uses.
Williams says contrary to popular belief if marijuana were to be legalised in Grenada solely for recreational and medicinal purposes, only a handful of the population stands to benefit; but if the masses were informed that the male part of the marijuana called hemp can be used to make a variety of products including concrete, biodegradable plastic, and biofuel, then the movement will get total buy-in from the general public.
“Just the smoking and medicinal aspect of marijuana will not provide a job for every Grenadian and will not make our entire country prosperous, but it will make certain people with vested interest in Grenada very wealthy. But for us to produce marijuana for medicinal purposes, we need to have very controlled areas: meaning you need land, factories, and laboratories. However, I and the Grenada Herbal Foundation will not advocate pushing just recreational marijuana because that doesn’t hire 5,000 children every year and gives them a well-paying job. However like we have cane being reintroduced in Grenada right now which is detrimental to our soil, we can have the male cannabis plant called hemp which grows the same way like cane but needs 90% less pesticide and enriches the soil, and then the materials that come from it can be used to produce concrete to plastic and everything in between, which will guarantee that children can get a viable job and be the master of their own destiny.”
Regarding his personal views on regulating the industry, Williams said his foundation wants strict regulations to govern the industry if made legal. “We would like to see if there is farming of weed in Grenada, for you to be a former you must be able to show that you can grow twice the amount of food as marijuana. Before we pass any legislation, we can have a town hall meeting where we take a survey of the people on how they feel about cannabis and do you think it should be legal? Then we can do a 3-month awareness campaign about the negatives and the positives. After that, we can do another survey to see if their position has changed after the awareness, and then a legislation can be drafted and, in that legislation, we would like to see no less than 21 years for the consumption of cannabis recreationally, or medicinally, and if so, you must have a doctor and parental consent to do so.”
The cannabis activist said it is high time Grenada changes its view on the subject and remains willing to have a sit down with the Prime Minister on this topic since the Grenada Herbal Foundation contains a wealth of information on benefits of marijuana.
Under Grenada’s law, anyone caught in possession of cannabis can be fined a maximum $250,000.00 or face up to 20 years in prison. Last year, government enforced the Rehabilitation Offences legislation which allows people with minor offences such as possession of marijuana, to have their records cleaned after four years.