The democracy of a nation is measured by its respect for the freedom of speech of its people. In the country regarded as one of the great democracies of the world, this freedom is under threat. A president calls his news media fake news. In our country which survived the manipulations of the big “democracies” our newspapers are able to freely publish positive and negative comments by all persons on social and political issues. It is because of a free press and freedom of expression that changes take place which are beneficial to the society.
One such change was the change of position by the President towards the use of marijuana. It is good that Guyana will fall in line with the wise path set by other Caricom countries. It is good that the opposition leader supported this change. However, I say we should do more. The destruction of fields of marijuana is senseless and based on following archaic laws and fear. Even the USA which had harsh policies against cultivation has changed these policies. I wish to commend the news media which published my recommendations and the positive comments by Ms. Singh. She recommended that marijuana be researched for medical uses at the University of Guyana.
Dr. Devonish a Guyanese born consultant in the UK also wrote to correct misinformation provided by a writer that marijuana would create junkie nations. In fact the progressive nation of Canada has now fully legalized its use. “Canada is only the second country in the world — and the first G7 nation — to implement legislation to permit a nationwide marijuana market. In the neighboring US, nine states and the District of Columbia now allow for recreational marijuana use, and 30 allow for medical use. Uruguay was the first country to legalize marijuana in December 2013”. ( Bani Sapra, CNN June 20, 2018.)
In Alberta cultivation is encouraged for medical research. “The town of Sundre, Alta., is ready to embrace Alberta’s cannabis boom, following in the footsteps of nearby communities like Cremona and Olds in welcoming a medical cannabis producer to town. Ready to embrace the cannabis boom too, with the promise of long-term jobs, potential growth and an opportunity to add even more diversity to an economy that includes oil and gas, farming, logging and tourism We’re a 42,000-square-foot operation and we plan to produce 9,000 kilograms of cannabis per year, so,” said Jesse Beaudry, CEO of Candre Cannabis..”. (Dan McGarvey · CBC News · Posted: Apr 02, 2018) That project is expected to create 200 jobs.
Likewise, Guyana needs to move quickly on emerging nontraditional opportunities. Instead of relying on fossil fuel for a new economy think of a green economy. Instead of burning the fields of the miracle medical herb, move to cultivate. Move to research. Move to export. Think about the jobs which can be created for our redundant sugar workers. We have made progress. Let us be the leaders in the Caribbean we were destined to be. I am encouraged that Government is listening to voices of the media and will move to make the changes being made in Canada, the Netherlands, the USA and other advanced countries for the development of our country. A sign of good intent would be for his Excellency to pardon persons whose productive lives are wasted in prison for possession of marijuana.
Dr. Davendra Anand Sharma
St. Kitts and Nevis