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.

132 thoughts on “A Heather Cole Column – An Economic Case for Legalizing Marijuana

  1. @ 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.

  2. @ 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??!!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

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

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


    “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.
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    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.”

  7. 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

    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. “

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

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

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. 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.

  12. 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!

  13. https://barbadostoday.bb/2019/07/04/not-so-fast-10/
    “Now that the Government has approved the five marjuana-based drugs to be added to the formulary, this means the Drug Service will soon be in a position to procure those medications and doctors would be able to prescribe them.

    The next drug formulary is due in April 2020.

    Lieutenant Colonel Bostic has not disclosed the names of the new drugs but has said the approval, granted more than a month ago, was a critical step in the development of a medical cannabis industry.”

    Simple question…
    Do these five marijuana-based drugs have any local connections or are they all imported?
    We dun wid this?

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