|Recently The Observer
newspaper published the news that a force of policemen
had raided a ganja patch, pulled up the young plants
and set them ablaze. The Corporal in charge seemed very
proud of himself as he posed for his picture near to
the smoking scene. He was not aware of course that he
was playing a part in one of the more idiotic pastimes
of our culture: The hunting and destroying of Marijuana
When are we going
to stop this stupidness, trying to arrest the spontaneous
growth of weed? I've asked repeated times: Why is
it a crime to grow ganja especially in these parts
where soil and the atmosphere are so conducive to
its flourishing growth? Particularly in our impoverished
economy where the underclass young men and women desperately
try to earn a decent livelihood?
Every patch of ganja growing in the mountain belongs
to some youth who, unable to find gainful employment
down town, repairs to the hills, toils in the sun,
cultivates a plot of land with a commodity which is
in demand, cares for each single plant and nurtures
his plot faithfully expecting that the plants will
mature and he will make some money on which to survive.
IT IS A MATTER OF
The young policeman could pose near the burning patch
and wear a self congratulatory smile for his job well
done. He obviously does not understand the pain he
caused that young man who, from a safe distance away
looks on with agony as the hard work which he has
done goes up in flames.
The young policeman
has a regular job .He is a career policeman. He is
doing well in his job because he wears two stripes
and leads men under his control. His patrol partners
have secure jobs .His superiors have secure jobs.
None of them knows the pain and embarrassment of being
out of a job, of lacking the money to buy food, pay
rent ,feed his baby and support his girl friend.
THIS IS UNFAIR. IT
IS DISCRIMINATION. IT IS AIMED AT BLACK PEOPLE TO
KEEP US POOR BY DENYING OUR POOR SONS AND DAUGHTERS
THE OPPORTUNITY TO RISE OUT OF POVERTY.
people condemn him, and applaud the police for destroying
his farm. Perhaps they mean well; they think marijuana
is the worst thing in the world They do not know what
they are talking about. They don't even know that
the reason why ganja is outlawed in the Caribbean
is to please the United States who wanted no competition
against their tobacco industry.
It seems to me that
the authorities should by now understand that no matter
what they do they cannot make marijuana extinct. It
is not a factory product which can disappear by destroying
the plant and machinery. It is not like whiskey and
vodka or cigarettes. It is not like Hammond report
which could be suppressed by drying up the supply
of molasses and smashing up the makeshift stills
GANJA IS A PLANT,
A NATURAL IN THE CARIBBEAN CLIMATE.
Dread man ploughs
the field, and scatters the good seed on the land;
and it is fed and watered, by God's almighty hand.
It is God's gift to the people and whatever potency
it is credited with, that's God's blessing The reason
why some people smoke it and drink it in tea, is that
they experience some kind of highs and lows which
make them feel good When tourists visit our island
they expect to get some pot to smoke .We can grow
pot here We ought to have pot to sell to our visitors
so that our poor young men and women can get a piece
of the tourist dollar instead of being hounded down
and harassed ,fined and confined for toiling on the
land in the blazing sun cultivating a plant which
is a natural product of St Kitts and Nevis.
This is stupidness
and should stop. It discriminates against black people
of the Caribbean in favour of white continental capitalists.
It robs our economies of the valuable foreign exchange
which could be earned from the export of ganja to
tens of thousands of tourists The interference with
this market is unwarranted and foolish and prevents
our national product from reaching its full potential.
When the police raid a ganja field and pull up the
young plants, they make ganja scarcer and the price
goes up. Those whose patches escape detection make
a lot of money. Those whose patches were destroyed
steal from those who escaped the raid and sell the
stuff to make some money.
The victims of the theft can't go to the police so
they get a gun and shoot the thief. This is the real
crime now, murder! The dead man's brother or cousin
decides he nar tek it so, and stalks the shooter
and shoots him when he catches him in a corner
AND THE SHOOTING GOES ON
Now all this murder and mayhem would not have happened
if ganja was not illegal, if policemen by the platoons
were not going mountain pulling up the weed
and making it scarce.
As bad as it is to interfere with the supply of ganja,
it is just as bad to try to regulate the demand by
criminalising its use.
Just why is it a crime to use the stuff? Those who
use it claim that it makes them feel good, the same
claim which the alcohol users make for their stuff.
Cigarette users say the same thing about their pet
vice. The rum and whiskey drinkers do not go to jail
or pay a fine. Indeed, they could walk boldly into
any smoke & booze and collect their stuff without
molestation. I don't think the authorities can explain
why ganja smokers cannot have the same privilege.
I used to attend cocktail parties where all that the
party goers did was eat and intoxicate themselves
with a variety of liquor. Every now and then, like
clockwork, the servers would circulate in the crowd
with trays of all kinds of drinks and before long,
many of the socialites were dead drunk and some of
them would invariably indulge in foolish chatter.
Some people have to be escorted to their homes totally
oblivious of what was going on around them, their
bodies bulging with too much food and too much to
also frequented a drinking spot, where one of the
regulars was the son of a very prominent citizen.
He, the son, had not done very well in life. All he
had to boast about were his father's achievements.
Almost invariably, after a few hours of imbibing he
would remind the gathering who his father was, and
then he would do something stupid to prove that he
was of nobler birth than the rest of us. One night
he decided to be more theatrical in his bid to hold
our attention. So he pulled down his pants threatening
to defecate in the bar. The bar owner had to threaten
him with a bull whip to bring him back to some sense
Nobody ever thought
of removing this human failure off the street and
putting him in jail. His human right to make an ass
of himself and be a nuisance to his fellows was respected.
So why lock up a chap because he has somehow developed
a taste for ganja or pot as the Americans call it?
I used to smoke cigarettes
but now as I look back I shiver at how insensitive
I used to be, puffing smoke into other peoples' faces,
forcing them to inhale the foul smelling odours. I
can now look back over the distant years and see some
of my friends, frantically fanning the smoke from
their faces as I puffed it at them like an endless
It also used to make
me cough. It was actually killing me. Sometimes as
I sat at the card table, I would enter into a convulsion
of uncontrollable coughing. I would do as my mother
had taught me and put my hand to my mouth but sometimes
it came suddenly and was really embarrassing. I am
sure that if I had not dropped the habit nearly 20
years ago I would already have died. Nobody, not my
best friends or my worst enemies ever suggested that
I be incarcerated for any of my dirty habits. If I
were a ganja smoker, however I would be fined, confined
and otherwise harassed by the authorities.
I was able to survive
alcohol and tobacco. but I was not able to triumph
over bananas, and pork and fried fish. These were
my delicacies, four bananas at one gulp. Joyous addiction
to "do-dung" pork, cook up wid pork, souse,
especially pig head souse. These things clogged my
arteries, threatened my life, put me to lie in hospital
for months at a time.
Perhaps it would have been better for me if I had
been put in jail to keep me away from my bad eating
habits, but my human right to kill myself with food
had to be respected.
So what happens to
the human right of freedom for addicts to ganja? On
what just grounds do we have the right to harass them,
destroy their plots, fine them and confine them for
enjoying a spliff?