by Curlan Campbell
Grenada (Now Grenada) – Rastafarians who have suffered the most are concerned that they will stand to benefit the least from marijuana decriminalisation. This is the concern of Syisha Williams, one of the more prominent faces of the Marijuana Legalisation Campaign, who has spent the last 10 years advocating and educating people on the benefits that can be derived from Cannabis.
His concerns were raised following Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell’s recent announcement that legislation to amend the Drug Abuse (Prevention and Control) Act will be tabled in parliament before the next general elections.
Williams said based on information received, it can be determined that if the amendments to the bill are structured the way rumour has it, then Grenadians will not stand to benefit the most from its passage into law. “From what we are hearing about how the bill is structured right now, Grenadians will not benefit the most from that. Actually, we stand to lose more. No one has seen the bill, and that’s one of the problems. Now if something is taken to parliament, who was involved in writing the bill and how do we know that they have Grenadians’ best interest at heart?”
Williams said while this move is a small step in the right direction towards legalisation, he believes some major issues must be placed high on the priority list for redress, especially for members of the Rastafarian community which has suffered the most from the prohibition of marijuana.
The most glaring issue is the expunging of criminal records of non-violent offenders charged with either trafficking, smoking, distributing small or large quantities of marijuana. Added to that, Williams made some suggestions that must also be considered if the authority is to protect the ordinary Grenadian wishing to cash in on the industry. One of his recommendations is to ensure that foreign and local companies are prevented from monopolising the cannabis industry in Grenada.
“60% of the cannabis industry must be owned by Grenadians or we can do profit sharing where foreigners can own the company outright but a certain percentage of their profits must benefit Grenada and that can be negotiated; but we have to protect our market from outside exploitation. However we know that we need investors so we don’t want to create a market that keeps investors out.”