A Heather Cole Column – An Economic Case for Legalizing Marijuana

Is it time to legalize marijuana in Barbados?

High levels of unemployment have always been prevalent in Barbados. The high unemployment rates in the 1930’s and the early 1970’s impacted the economy. The unemployment rate of the 1930’s was significantly reduced when thousands left the island to help rebuild England after the 2nd World War. In the early 1970’s when there was a movement away from plantation labour, again caused high unemployment this was reduced by the islands limited attempt at industrialization as well as the farm labour and domestic worker programs that had opened up in the US. To date migration is the most significant factor that has impacted unemployment in Barbados.

With the island’s economy in recession, there are high levels of unemployment. The high unemployment problem is not new but it is compounded by a new phenomenon; that is the presence of illegal drugs and guns.

For some the trade in marijuana has become their employment. There is a labour force similar in structure to any corporate entity but those actions are all underground and do not impact taxation, national income or gross domestic product of the island.

Like any corporate entity, there is competition among the various suppliers on the market but there are no marketing campaigns, no sales, no exclusive offers, no buy one and get one free, no regulatory standards or licenses. There is no payment of VAT or the NSRL with regards to the importation, production, distribution or sales of marijuana. The trade is controlled by drug lords and drug dealers.

To date, the primary act of the police force and by extension the government has to been prevent the “goods” from making it to market. The drug squad seize home grown marijuana as well as illegal importations of the drug.

The secondary act of police and again by extension the government has been to charge the black lower class, mostly males and a small number of white tourist for the possession of marijuana that is for personal use. It is a rarity for a trafficker or a drug lord to be brought before the court.

The primary act of Government should have been to recover moneys owed to the system. Had this been the premise of Government, the following actions would have occurred:

1. Confiscated marijuana, worth millions of dollars would not go up in smoke.

2. By now government would have legalized marijuana for medical, personal and industrial use.

3. Government would have created the environment for the creation of an industrial base that utilizes marijuana.

Herein lies the dilemma of Barbados, there is a high level of unemployment without an outlet. Anti-immigrant policies in the US and the UK are at an all-time high. It is therefore not easy to immigrate. We have a highly marketable but illegal crop that as a cash crop retails dried at $3,000.00 per lb. There has never been a concrete reason as to why the plant is illegal. Added to this we have a police force that has been employed to confiscate a diminishing number of marijuana plants. See below:

Confiscation of Home Grown Plants

2015 – 56,416

2016 – 27,602

2017 ( Jan to Sep) – 7,601

Source: Sunday Sun September 10, 2017.

There was no data on confiscation through imports by sea and air.

Based on the data, it appears that the police are not even reaching the break-even point; which is the point at which confiscation matches the cost of their efforts to confiscate the plant or a charge with intent to supply or trafficking. There are no economic gains to offset the cost of the plant reaching the market if it is burnt by law enforcement. In addition, charges for possession of the dried plant varies. There is no precedent set for the imposition of a possession charge. Most of those charged have in their possession less than an ounce of the substance. That being the case, at present a recovery tax at the court cannot be compared to revenue earned by taxation if marijuana was a legal crop. To date, I am not aware of anyone who has been fined millions of dollars for importing large quantities of the substance.

In making an economic case for marijuana, several aspects should be taken into consideration:

1. There is already an abundant supply in agricultural land that can readily be planted with the crop.

2. High unemployment levels create a pool of existing labour.

3. They are already skilled growers on the island.

4. They are a wide variety of by-products to be produced from the plant.

5. Medicinal products can be manufactured, creating a niche market for Barbados.

6. Sellers of the good for smoking can be licensed.

7. The legal good can now be taxed by government both imported and domestically grown.

8. Legalization will prevent the present importers from gaining super profits and becoming rich at the expense of the poor and the state.

9. With an abundant supply of the plant on the free market there will be no drug wars, no need to maintain territory, no trafficking and no need for the illegal importation of firearms.

10. Taxes from this area and be used to assist law enforcement to more effectively counteract real drugs such as cocaine and illegal fire arms and create prevention programs aimed at the young who may become targets of drug traffickers for cocaine.

In essence, the country is losing out any economic benefits that can be derived from marijuana. The freeing up of this market will provide economic benefits through taxation, reduce unemployment, reduce gang violence and cause the island to become better prepared for drug lords who will change their product offering.

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131 Comments on “A Heather Cole Column – An Economic Case for Legalizing Marijuana”

  1. angela Skeete October 23, 2017 at 10:30 AM #

    @WW&C kis.
    My a..ss ole sow. Rather be yardflow than a low life mud slignning jack.a.ss like u all day long you get her on BU and malign peoples character most of whom u never met and David BU allows it. f u jack a ss you have no integrity or moral character to call any one liwlufe names u oiece of horse dung.
    Now get to f out off my face and go find something to do with your life.clown

    Like

  2. millertheanunnaki October 23, 2017 at 10:39 AM #

    @ Hal Austin October 23, 2017 at 10:03 AM
    “May I also add that the call for the legalisation of prostitution is but another example of the failure of the i9mkaginaation of Barbadian policy-makers.
    The narrative for resolving our economic troubles are: a fire sale of pubic assets; higher taxation; legalising marijuana and prostitution; bigger jails and longer prison sentences; etc. We must think through these problems, not try to rationalise them.”

    If you find the proposals so preposterously objectionable why don’t you make a difference by doing your national duty in the most sacrificially ‘noblesse oblige’ manner?

    Why not leave the moral cesspools of Europe including you bugbear places of licentious Amsterdam and vile Antwerp and return to your fast deteriorating haven with its Nelson Street turning into a red-light backstreet in the shanty towns found on the outskirts of any city in Nigeria or any other West African banana republic?

    What are the alternatives to the current miasma of economic and social dislocation facing your country of birth? Speak up or put up ‘in’ your cozy flat in north London.

    Like

  3. Hal Austin October 23, 2017 at 10:41 AM #

    Yet he wants to know if prostitution is decriminalized would there be a vocational offering in this newly-found ‘archaic’ discipline at the Cave Hill campus.

    Jethro Miller PGCE(FE)
    I know you are not very good at the English language. But there is a huge difference between decriminalising prostitution and its legalisation.
    I cannot afford it, but I am willing to pay for you to get lessons in basic English.

    Like

  4. Well Well & Consequences Observing Blogger. October 23, 2017 at 11:00 AM #

    And that’s the best we will get from these 2, they both fell flat.

    Angela Yardfowl when will the garbage around people’s houses be picked up….in Barbados.

    Because I wont let you malign Jamaica to take the focus off ya own government incompetence, ya twist yasef in knots..if you cant give us anything to work with, what do you expect.

    Do you see any Jamaicans on here complaining about Holness and his ministers.

    Like

  5. Vincent Haynes October 23, 2017 at 11:15 AM #

    Hal

    Therefore, it would be right and proper for careers advisors to encourage young school leaver s to consider prostitution as a career. Is that correct?
    …………………………………………………………………………………….

    If such a need arises…..yes…..why not…..my point was that I could never see a legalised industry having a shortfall of interested persons that you would need to advertise.

    Its all part of the service industry and the more people are aware that it is not an immoral,sinfull,wrong or anything to be ashamed of,the better.

    Education is what is required in everything and I disagree with you on trivialising the prevention of STDs.

    When human needs are no longer part of the underground trade we will have become mature.

    Note I write this for others reading this as I am fully aware that your mindset is set in stone due to your socialisation.

    Like

  6. William Skinner October 23, 2017 at 11:15 AM #

    We should have legalized prostitution at least 50 years ago. We should have legalized/decriminalized marijuana at least 45 years ago.
    The point made by Pacha that we are late to the marijuana dance is accurate.
    As a drinker, I must say, that I believe, the high local consumption of alcohol along with certain foods contribute tremendously to the high incidence of non-communicable disease especially when dealing with diabetes and heart issues, and puts a strain on the delivery of health care.
    I don’t think there is any compelling evidence that the consumption of marijuana does more damage than smoking cigarettes, bad food habits, lack of exercise, or engaging in prostitution. It is clearly established that Marijuana has more positive health benefits than the high consumption of alcohol and smoking cigarettes. Drinking marijuana is known to assist with countering maladies. The same cannot be same for rum and cigarettes.

    Like

  7. angela Skeete October 23, 2017 at 11:27 AM #

    Ole swo get lost done wid u

    The same voices that are calling for the legalisation of marijuana would be the same voices crying when govt implement high levy to combat the social downslide that impact the nation social enviroment

    Like

  8. John October 23, 2017 at 11:31 AM #

    so he quickly switched his tactics from a few days ago when he saw Cow and Bizzy controlling marijuana growing and higging everything
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Envy, jealousy and malice are so easy to expose … just throw out a sprat and in walks/swims the whale.

    Glad to see it gave you sleepless nights and you can’t get it out of your mind!!

    Clearly the simple fact that COW and Bizzy own so much agricultural land makes it simple for them to diversify into …. and then out of marijuana if were to be legalised.

    The mountainous islands of the Caribbean, not Barbados, attract daily rainfall and their soils are more fertile than ours.

    We can’t compete one on one with marijuana grown in these countries.

    That is kind of obvious, Barbados would prefer to import the higher quality marijuana than grow it!!

    The fact that we even grow it is suggestive of the success at preventing its illegal importation.

    Marijuana and prostitution are not worth discussing!!!

    We need something major to fix this country!!!

    These are fry, and guaranteed to pull our country lower, … if that is possible.

    Like

  9. millertheanunnaki October 23, 2017 at 11:56 AM #

    @ Hal Austin October 23, 2017 at 10:41 AM
    “I cannot afford it, but I am willing to pay for you to get lessons in basic English.”

    If you cannot afford it, how would go about paying for it? By ‘prostituting’ yourself by selling your ‘unlicensed’ ass?

    So tell us how you would go about legalizing (or should that be in the eyes of Hal, “legalising”) prostitution without first decriminalizing (decriminalising) the activity?

    BTW do you know any language other than English?
    By writing in French or Spanish we might just deter you from reading and responding to the crap written in poor English?

    Why don’t you revisit your own very ‘good’ English and let us see if you can spot your own ‘basic’ mistakes?

    We know for sure that a good few here on BU can but are not as stupidly pedantic to comment.

    Now stop with the ad hominems ad nauseam and focus on the substantive issues raised.

    Like

  10. Vincent Haynes October 23, 2017 at 12:04 PM #

    It would be interesting for UWI Cavehill to do the research on what varieties of hemp are suited for the clay soils of the Scotland district or the limestone soils of the rest of the island.

    I have heard it say that Bim can produce a very good product superior to the various types around the Caribbean and South America.

    We need to get the fellows out of Dodds and onto the land carrying out tests for UWI in order to identify the best variety that can be grown on which soil.

    It would be karma if the Scotland District hills were identified as the most suitable soil for its production.

    Note the hills of the area can be stabilised…..just needs a new push by the SCU and maintenance based on the last study done in the 90s.

    Like

  11. millertheanunnaki October 23, 2017 at 12:31 PM #

    @ John October 23, 2017 at 11:31 AM
    “Marijuana and prostitution are not worth discussing!!!
    We need something major to fix this country!!!”

    Like what, Sir John? A return to the good old days of slavery when sugar was King and labour cheap?

    But such a suggestion does have some merit.

    For sure the rural environment would be well-kept and the lands surrounding the great houses well manicured to welcome the tourists.

    Why ‘regularize’ prostitution when the limey sailors could visit Rachel Pringle’s Inn of ‘repute’ to be serviced by a few mulatto wenches for less than a farthing?

    Like

  12. Well Well @ Consequences Observing Blogger October 23, 2017 at 12:47 PM #

    why should these criminalized young men and women in Dodds, be now released to carry out tests for UWI…after being imprisoned for the same plant, they should be released with a humble apology and 5 acres of land each in the Scotland district to test the soil, cultivate their own marijuana to harvest byproducts…..

    you dont add insult to injury by imprisoning them, then releasing them to run tests for you, they should be running tests for their own self enrichment, no one else`s…to be shared only among themselves as business people and passed on to their future generations.

    yall aint tired using and abusing black people…these same young people you would not even want to speak to should you meet them in the streets, because they are young, black and went to prison for dope.

    leave them alone, the government owes them all that land for marijuana cultivation…for themselves.

    Miller…ya hear how they are planning already to use the young people they criminalized…demons man.

    Like

  13. Vincent Haynes October 23, 2017 at 12:53 PM #

    Hahahahaha……..poor imbecile…….lack of comprehension is a real curse.

    Like

  14. Well Well @ Consequences Observing Blogger October 23, 2017 at 1:13 PM #

    the only thing anyone at UWI was ever interested in was smoking the marijuana and get high, like at all universities, leave it at that.

    dont be bringing ya bighted ideas to start the disenfranchising of the majority population all over again to rob them of their entitlements to the plant….UWI already has a reputation…..what a nerve you greedy thieves got though.

    dont mind John….all of them now got ants up there asses because they are losing their grip to regulate the population to the labels they have foe them as maids, gardeners and slaves….so they are restless and sleepless at night trying to devise ways to regain control, but the grimreaper should snatch them all soon.

    Hal…es cabron y pendejo, the island is so much better off without him, imagine if his presence was there weighing the island down…lol…the Johns and Vincents would be happy to have another fool to use.

    Me sleepless nights…i just woke up again…speak for thyself, yall are going through hell now ya cant put ya thieving fingers on what dont belong to you…just heard some great news in that regard….these plans have been in place for going well on ten years….so watch yaselves go crazy.

    i have never known anyone to be envious of people with the label of thieves……………..that would be a new low for me or anyone else.

    ah could not even understand what the mangy yardfowl posted…lol..good thing you have no say in anything..lol

    Like

  15. Well Well @ Consequences Observing Blogger October 23, 2017 at 1:24 PM #

    i comprehend more than you know…these young people already have the information they need in their heads….what do they need you or UWI for..

    these guys and gals , the ones not imprisone…already have their plans, they are not stupid, they went to school just like you, so why would they need you or your self serving advice…

    what they are about would blow your narrow mind back to Curacao…do you think they were waiting for you to come along to tell them what to do or what they already know…these people do not need UWI….ya dont get it…and obviously never will…so keep rambling.

    Like

  16. Pachamama October 23, 2017 at 2:48 PM #

    We’ve had ignorant governments, since independence

    Supported by NGOs, acting as agents of imperialism, telling us what our national interests were to be.

    Are these governments which imprisoned generations of our young people, in slave-like conditions, for foolishness, merely having a joint.

    Does justice not demand a price from these elites, especially the politicians, for official crimes against us all.

    Like

  17. Well Well @ Consequences Observing Blogger October 23, 2017 at 3:05 PM #

    i dont know what these idiots are on about..

    say that i am well versed in many things, have all the information i need to start an industry….i dont even need large amounts of cash, only land, because i have done this many times before and for decades….why the hell would i need a university, advice from halfassed thieves who never went to prison for the knowledge i have in my head….or thieving minorities who would want to pretend i am their newest black friend so they could thief my knowledge to enrich themselves and leave me in poverty….

    why would i need parasities who demonized me before for decades and dont know what the hell they are talking about re the knowledge i have….

    these clowns would die in Jamaica, Trinidad or NYC for their scummy plans against people with marijuana knowledge, they would be lucky if their bodies are found for burial..

    Pacha… the house negro governments need to decriminalize the marijuana and release the land to the majority population so they can start an industry….they owe the people that…for all the shit they have done to the people….for 50 long years.

    Like

  18. John October 23, 2017 at 3:22 PM #

    Getting the land back into cultivation for whatever crop is a major undertaking and will create jobs for starters.

    It will give many exercise and impact long term the rising health costs associated with obesity!!

    It will be a sign that the blight that has befallen Barbados is being lifted and on its own will create hope!!

    Like

  19. John October 23, 2017 at 3:23 PM #

    But to do it there needs to an economic justification

    Like

  20. Well Well @ Consequences Observing Blogger October 23, 2017 at 3:28 PM #

    while they do it, you stay there and figure it out.

    Like

  21. John October 23, 2017 at 3:33 PM #

    Here is the real reason why reparations is for dummies.

    The investment of 300 plus years of labour and capital in the agricultural lands is being ignored!!

    Why would anyone in their right mind want to give a bunch of dummies who ignore the benefits of that investment money!!

    Like

  22. Well Well @ Consequences Observing Blogger October 23, 2017 at 3:36 PM #

    ya on the wrong thread John.

    Like

  23. Well Well @ Consequences Observing Blogger October 23, 2017 at 3:37 PM #

    and it`s not your decision to make, its not your land.

    Like

  24. John October 23, 2017 at 6:10 PM #

    Same dummies on all threads!!!!

    Like

  25. Well Well & Consequences Observing Blogger. October 23, 2017 at 6:16 PM #

    Lol…..still not your land, money or decision to make, stay out of the people’s business….this is 2017.

    Like

  26. Well Well & Consequences Observing Blogger. October 23, 2017 at 6:29 PM #

    Peru legislated medical marijuana……only incredibly stupid people will refuse to see the writing on the wall…Israel got in early.

    NewsWorldAmericas
    “Peru votes to legalise medical marijuana

    Peru’s congress overwhelmingly approved the measure

    Molly Fleming 2 days ago0 comments

    israel-cannabis.jpg
    An Israeli woman weighs marijuana plants at a greenhouse in the country’s second-largest medical cannabis plantation Getty
    Peru has become the latest country to legalise marijuana for medicinal use.

    The majority of Peru’s congress approved the legalisation supported by President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski by 68 votes to five.

    Cannabis is normally prescribed for conditions like muscle spasms, chronic pain, PTSD, epilepsy and cancer.

    READ MORE
    Cannabis must be legalised to protect young people, suggests study
    Cannabis ‘increases violence in people with mental health disorders’
    Ex Tory minister says legalising cannabis could win over young voters

    Originally the law was controversial due to Peru’s problem with drug gangs involved in its cocaine production. The country is the second-largest cocaine producer in the world.

    Proponents emphasised that the measure is aimed at extracting components from marijuana to address specific ailments.

    The proposal was sparked due to a police raid of in February that a group of parents who producing cannabis oil for children with cancer and severe cases of epilepsy.

    Where cannabis is and isn’t legal
    12
    show all
    Pro-government politician Alberto de Belaunde said before the vote: “Science is on our side, the regional current is on our side. Let’s not let our fears paralyse us.”

    Peru joins other South and Central American countries Uruguay, Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Argentina who have legalised the drug for medicinal and scientific purposes.

    The bill, which will allow the regulated production of cannabis oil, will be written into law within the next two months.”

    Like

  27. Hants October 23, 2017 at 7:22 PM #

    I was in Holetown in 2009 and was surprised to see drug dealing a big rock pelt away from the Holetown police station. 8 years later and there is this.

    http://www.nationnews.com/nationnews/news/101502/matters-maria-sisters-fear

    ” It is one of the liveliest streets in Holetown, St James, which connects to 2nd Street and is filled with restaurants, hotels, bars and businesses, has also become filled with drug peddling, crime and violence.

    They fear that if the authorities don’t do something urgently, it could have a negative impact on the tourist industry.

    Tthe area, which was usually populated with tourists, was filthy. They accused some businesses in the area of not playing their part to deal with the scourges.

    Tourism is wunna business

    Like

  28. Well Well & Consequences Observing Blogger. October 23, 2017 at 7:25 PM #

    These two are druggies themselves, they waited until it’s out of control…this place is a street away from the police station….ask yaself why the other business people are hesitant to get involved.

    Like

  29. Hal Austin October 24, 2017 at 4:01 AM #

    Hinga started abusing drugs, first marijuana and then heroin. He spent hours sifting through garbage to find things he could sell on the streets – BBC news.

    Like

  30. vincent haynesw October 24, 2017 at 7:22 AM #

    Hal

    I can quote even more tales of the destructiveness of alcoholism and how it destroys people and families.

    The best that can be done is to legalise and educate…..never criminalise as it only srnds it underground to become a worst scourge.

    Like

  31. millertheanunnaki October 24, 2017 at 8:47 AM #

    @ vincent haynesw October 24, 2017 at 7:22 AM

    Why waste your intellectual and morally ‘liberating’ time on a two-faced sod who was not only raised in a rum shop in his “Ivy” league place of childhood residence but also experienced his precociously pubescent familiarity with the ravages wrought by licensed open drunkenness and ‘illegally on display’ commercial prostitution during his ‘oft extended’ overnight visits to another ‘speakeasy’ bar on Nelson Street?

    These early exposures seemed not to have any morally destructive effects on the impressionably shallow Hal while attending Combermere and- after taking a slow boat of the Soriento vintage to the West India docks on the old Isle of Dogs (or even the 10-12 hours long-haul flight on BOAC)- managed to enroll at some socialist guilt-inspired polytechnic prepared to take the educationally-subnormal newly arrived West Indians ‘scrunting’ to survive in the dingy low-life backstreets off Ladbroke Grove but eager to display their ‘jump-up’ cultural behaviours on the tree-lined avenues of Notting Hill Gate and Upper Westbourne Park.

    Like

  32. Bush Tea October 24, 2017 at 9:03 AM #

    @ Hants

    ” It is one of the liveliest streets in Holetown, St James, which connects to 2nd Street and is filled with restaurants, hotels, bars and businesses, has also become filled with drug peddling, crime and violence.

    They fear that if the authorities don’t do something urgently, it could have a negative impact on the tourist industry.

    The area, which was usually populated with tourists, was filthy. They accused some businesses in the area of not playing their part to deal with the scourges.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Sound more like a description of the business of prostitution…

    Oh Wait!!!!
    Same shiite nuh??!!

    Like

  33. Well Well @ Consequences Observing Blogger October 24, 2017 at 9:44 AM #

    Bushman…ya know the thing, i wont walk my dog down there, am allergic to animals….the place is a drug den, both streets, white owned nightclubs that are coke havens…heaven for those who feed their noses in the minority communities…do you see police going there to do any clean up.

    as a matter of fact, it has always been a drug den, known to the police.

    as for those two dried up old prunes, now they look like shit they are complaining, they never complained when they were flying high, literally and figuratively for decades….oh how the mighty and their fellow drug dealers have fallen.

    never thought i would see this, they are actually telling themselves bajans dont know and the ones that do, some wont talk.

    Like

  34. Vincent Haynes October 24, 2017 at 9:50 AM #

    Miller

    Chuckle……you and Hal can Duke it out.

    Like

  35. Vincent Haynes October 24, 2017 at 9:55 AM #

    1st and 2nd st Holetown are known to me and when I am on island I frequent the only local bar that caters to locals and visitors at rum shop prices in1st street called “One Love”.

    The area is no dirtier than the rest of Bim with garbage piled up just like the neighbouring Sunset Crest.

    From my observation it caters to the needs of the visitors……either we want visitors or we do not want them……they cannot be sanitised.

    Like

  36. Hants October 24, 2017 at 11:37 AM #

    @ Vincent Haynes,

    Glad you are advertising the “one Love” bar. Hope Richard and his wife still own it.

    Like

  37. Hants October 24, 2017 at 11:57 AM #

    Like

  38. Hants October 24, 2017 at 11:58 AM #

    The environmental sustainability will improve when weed is sold legally in rum shops.

    Like

  39. Vincent Haynes October 24, 2017 at 12:12 PM #

    HANTS

    Its presently operated by 3 sisters and their mother.

    Like

  40. Well Well & Consequences Observing Blogger. October 24, 2017 at 12:25 PM #

    Am surprised no one is cussing me for the 2 old dried up prunes yet, so I can give details.

    Like

  41. Well Well & Consequences Observing Blogger. October 25, 2017 at 3:59 AM #

    New drug traffickers in UK who took over from old drug traffickers in 1st and 2nd St Holetown…and upscale arreas on the island.

    http://www.nationnews.com/nationnews/news/101563/drug

    “A former Barbadian footballer and his British girlfriend, a restaurant manager who has been described as a “greedy grandmother”, were both jailed last week for a total of 24 years for their involvement in smuggling cocaine into London from Barbados and for money laundering.
    Related articles

    Ortis Derek Ollivierre, 45, of Maxwell, Christ Church, a former outstanding striker for Pride of Gall Hill football team, was sentenced to 12 years while his British girlfriend, Gillian Weldrick, 53, also received 12 years.
    Weldrick, the manager of an upmarket Italian restaurant, met Ollivierre in 2015 while on vacation in Barbados and was said to have been assisting him in smuggling cocaine to Britain, where she would undertake selling it.”

    Like

  42. Well Well & Consequences Observing Blogger. October 25, 2017 at 8:32 AM #

    A call for legalization of marijuana, now a call for decolonization of the islands, ah guess the two go hand in hand…

    “Decolonize the Caribbean

    In the wake of Hurricanes Maria and Irma, the Caribbean must escape the trappings of modern-day colonialism and seek out its own kinds of sovereignties.

    Angel “Monxo” López Santiago
    10/19/2017

    Locals await relief outside of Utuado, Puerto Rico, in early October (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Eric D. Woodall)

    María and Irma, 2017’s two most destructive hurricanes in the Caribbean basin, have exposed the trappings and inequalities of colonialism in the region. The hurricanes have blown away decades of legal and international maneuvers and ruses, local constitutions, and moves towards autonomy and integration and administrative reclassifications—leaving exposed a simple colonial truth.

    Such reclassifications have deemed these islands everything from overseas territories (such as the United Kingdom’s British Virgin Islands) to unincorporated territories (like the United States’ Puerto Rico and American Virgin Islands) to overseas “departments” (like France’s Guadéloupe and Martinique) to overseas “collectivities” (like France’s Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy) to overseas “municipalities” (The Netherlands’ Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba). Yet the hurricanes have shown that the Caribbean islands, regardless of title, as all colonies throughout history, exist to serve the colonial masters, and not the other way around. Even sovereign island nations, like Dominica, seem to float in the same colonial stew of dependency and underdevelopment that paved the way to the destruction of human habitation in some of these islands after the hurricanes.

    The hurricanes, most agree, are man-made catastrophes. Global warming has fueled super hurricanes that are more frequent and destructive than ever. Global warming is man-made. But so too is the fragile infrastructure of the islands, its energy, food, agricultural, tourism, land-tenure, finance, and debt regimes. All presented the perfect background to what we saw in the last two weeks of September of 2017.

    Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis set the conditions for the degree of destruction Maria wrought. Much has been written about the vulture funds’ grip on the island’s economy, the billions owed in a national debt that decision-makers in Washington, D.C. have refused to audit, the unelected fiscal control board set up in the capital to extract money owed to Wall Street interests. That’s not to mention the austerity measures: the proposed cuts to the minimum wage and pension funds, the closing of schools, the neglected infrastructure. This neoliberal nightmare scenario meant the infrastructure and disaster preparedness necessary to mitigate a disaster like Maria were completely neglected.

    Beyond recovery efforts, how do we think about this situation in ways that are not only theoretically relevant, but that allows the residents of Puerto Rico to develop a more secure, just, and equitable future? In short, how do we decolonize the Caribbean?

    The truth is that talk of independence is a non-starter for many of the residents of the region. More than 500 years of European colonialism is a heavy tradition not easily disposed of. Scholar Yarimar Bonilla has wisely and skillfully avoided the at-times unproductive debate about independence for French overseas departments. Also, not even national independence our official post-colonial statuses helped island-nations escape fully their colonial grip—see Haiti, Dominica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and more. But post-coloniality and decolonization are two different things, and I argue we must achieve the latter.

    Decolonize Sovereignty

    The Caribbean is in need of food sovereignty, energy sovereignty, and land sovereignty. As it is today, decision-making about each of these key elements of life and livelihood has been determined from without.We must decolonize the Caribbean. This requires us to envision a “non-sovereign” future, as Bonilla refers to it, requiring us to hack our understanding of what sovereignty means. Our understanding of the idea of sovereignty stems mostly from the French political theorist Jean Bodin, who in the late 1500s established that sovereign power is both indivisible and non-alienable. Under this understanding, talk about more than one sovereign in a single territory would be nonsensical. But we must hack our understanding of sovereignty. Instead of sovereignty, to decolonize the Caribbean, we must speak and write about sovereignties. The Caribbean is in need of food sovereignty, energy sovereignty, and land sovereignty. As it is today, decision-making about each of these key elements of life and livelihood has been determined from without.

    Food sovereignty concerns establishing autonomy and equitable shares of food regimes, from agriculture to farming to fishing to imports and exports, that determine how and what we eat, and to whose benefit. A rapid glance at the diet of the average Puerto Rican, at the agricultural and food regime changes in Puerto Rico from Spanish to American colonial times, shows that basic decisions about food—what to grow, who to sell to, at what price, and what people eat—are not organic decisions, but planned regimes that must be critically assessed.

    In Puerto Rico, the absolute and unquestionable submersion of the island and its people within the financial control of the United States has created consumption habits and lifestyles that have not only fostered dependence but are also unsustainable. The same can be said of other islands in the region. That is why Puerto Rico and other islands must establish energy sovereignty, and rethink the energy regimes that determine how the islands power electric island-wide grids, dependence on fossil-fuel, the export and import regimes associated with it, and the development of renewable sources of energy.

    Finally, the Caribbean must establish land sovereignty. This concerns the regimes that determine how we use and develop land, who owns the land, the possibilities of communal ownership, the decision-making processes related to land, and associated tax regimes. One central idea is to move beyond the current view, which holds that land must either be private or public. Instead, we must explore different alternative land-tenure and land-management regimes such as community land trusts, mutual housing associations, land cooperatives, land banks, intentional communities, conservation land trusts, among others. Land sovereignty is at the center of debates in the island of Barbuda, for example; but in Puerto Rico struggles for land sovereignty have questioned land policy around beaches as it relates to the tourism industry.

    In the case of Puerto Rico—and other islands—we must also think and act towards trade sovereignty, meaning sovereignty over the commerce, finance, and cultural exchange regimes that determine trade conditions and who they benefit. Of course, the United States is particularly possessive of its exclusive prerogatives over trade. But, in the case of Puerto Rico, do they have a right to this monopolistic prerogative when their guarantee of color-blind citizenship and the right to determine economic bankruptcy are inoperative or arbitrarily denied?

    Decolonize the Diaspora

    Diasporas have a fundamental role to play in these processes. Our barrios and neighborhoods in the United States, and in New York City specifically have for years suffered the kinds of devastating consequences that we are likely to see now in Puerto Rico and other islands in the region. Communities of color, in particular Puerto Rican, Dominican and African-American, are the most affected by environmental injustices in New York City. Diasporas have for decades dealt with dynamics similar to those that the hurricanes now render so clear: second-class citizenship, the politics of neglect, conquest, displacement, vulnerability to vulture-developers, weak democratic representation, and lack of transparency.

    There are important examples in the island of working-class communities organizing to fight against environmental injustice, gentrification, and displacement, among them the barrios of El Caño Martín Peña. All of these island-based and diaspora-based knowledges need to be leveraged and elevated.

    Our fragmentation is not accidental, and neither will we come together by accident.The few success stories of neighborhood protection and resistance to environmental racism that we know about have been possible only through the intra-diasporic horizontal networks of solidarity and concern that the diverse diasporas have developed between each other. These horizontal networks of support, solidarity, and activism need to be replicated in the Caribbean. Our fragmentation is not accidental, and neither will we come together by accident. This is a political process that needs to be coordinated from the grassroots, with transparency, accountability, and democratic participation.

    Decolonization will not be easy, but the diasporas here in the United States, and in every imperial metropolis (France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom) can and will play an important role. Conversely, a decolonization drive in the Caribbean will only heighten the possibilities of decolonization in our own exile communities. This struggle, the push towards achieving multiple sovereignties, is of the utmost urgency—the future of our communities, our neighborhoods, and our ancestral homelands lies in the balance.

    Angel ‘Monxo’ López Santiago teaches at Hunter College’s Africana, Puerto Rican and Latino Studies Department at the City University of New York. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from CUNY’s Graduate Center. He is also a GIS/Mapping and cartographic practitioner. His current research centers on digital mapping and historical GIS within the field of Latino Studies. He is currently at work on a manuscript entitled Spatial Latinos which explores the development of Latino communities in New York City during the latter half of the 19th and early 20th centuries from a geo-spatial perspective. “

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  43. Hants October 25, 2017 at 1:04 PM #

    Marijuana company Canopy Growth forms strategic partnership in Jamaica.

    http://www.ctvnews.ca/business/marijuana-company-canopy-growth-forms-strategic-partnership-in-jamaica-1.3647998

    Like

  44. Hants October 25, 2017 at 1:05 PM #

    Cannabis to be retailed out of NB Liquor subsidiary along with online sales

    http://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/cannabis-to-be-retailed-out-of-nb-liquor-subsidiary-along-with-online-sales-1.3648063

    Like

  45. Hants October 25, 2017 at 1:08 PM #

    Like

  46. Vincent Haynes October 25, 2017 at 6:39 PM #

    Hants October 24, 2017 at 11:37 AM #

    You are correct…..Richard,his wife and 3 daughters presently are still running it.

    Like

  47. Vincent Haynes October 26, 2017 at 5:57 PM #

    Like

  48. Vincent Haynes October 28, 2017 at 8:40 AM #

    https://www.ft.com/content/91ba3540-b7e8-11e7-8c12-5661783e5589

    London’s first medical marijuana conference is a sellout

    Like

  49. ra1 November 16, 2017 at 3:09 AM #

    The Media Treats White Drugs Users Like Angels Who Lost Their Wings and Treats Black Drug Users Like Demons Who 1 Be Returned to Hell

    Like

  50. ra1 November 16, 2017 at 3:11 AM #

    The Media Treats White Drugs Users Like Angels Who Lost Their Wings and Treats Black Drug Users Like Demons Who Must Be Returned to Hell

    Like

  51. Ping Pong November 16, 2017 at 3:28 AM #

    Marijuana like alcohol, tobacco and unprotected sex with persons one is not in a monogamous relationship is risky and bad for one’s health. At least 17% of persons seeking psychiatric help due to substance abuse is for marijuana use. Marijuana use should be dealt with as a public health issue and not a criminal justice matter. Medical marijuana is NOT the same as the marijuana sold on the street for so called recreational use. The marijuana on the streets is more potent and may be contaminated with other drugs of more deadly effect. Also those under medical supervision will be monitored for side effects like any other pharmaceutical.

    The legalisation of marijuana without the institutional and counseling programs to either dissuade use or treat abuse is irresponsible and destructive.

    Like

  52. Ping Pong November 16, 2017 at 3:33 AM #

    The Chief Medical Officer is quoted as saying “”The co-use of marijuana and liquor is a bad idea,” he said.

    “Marijuana in of itself — or the THC — and alcohol in of itself can cause impairment, and we know that those effects are not just additive but exponentially increased if somebody chooses to co-use both substances.”

    yet he supports legalisation!

    Like

  53. Ping Pong November 16, 2017 at 3:34 AM #

    Sorry that should be the Chief Medical Officer of Colorado in the USA.

    Like

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