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Trinidad and Tobago: Cannabis proven to be safe. Marijuana advocates hold second rally in Sando

Laurel Williams

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Monday 28 Jan 2019

USED for medicinal, recreational and sacramental purposes, marijuana has become a "friend" to many people, many of whom yesterday showed their support for cannabis legalisation to decriminalise the plant.

Hundreds gathered at Skinner Park, San Fernando, for the National Cannabis Rally II hosted by the All Mansions of Rastafari (AMOR). The rally came three days after Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Faris Al-Rawi and the Minister in the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs, Fitzgerald Hinds, began Government’s first public consultation on the decriminalisation of marijuana.

At the rally, Leader of the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) David Abdulah said the public was given insufficient time to contribute their views, ideas and proposals. He called on the Government to have a process of consultation that enabled citizens and interest groups to articulate their positions for and against the legislation.

Pleading his support for decriminalisation, Abdulah said whatever happens must be done in such a way that the ordinary person got an opportunity to have economic empowerment. The MSJ leader said the Rastafarian movement and grassroots people were being discriminated against, jailed and/or suffered because of the existing laws of TT.

"They must not end up becoming workers on plantations owned by the wealthy or perhaps workers in stores that are selling (marijuana or marijuana-related products). The ordinary people should benefit," Abdulah told reporters.

President of Cannabis and You (CAY) Rondell Daniel distributed pamphlets about cannabis saying laws about it should be repealed.

He said, "Cannabis is not a dangerous drug and it should not be under the Dangerous Drug Act. Cannabis has proven to be safe. Cannabis is a friend and people should be given licenses to grow this plant. We welcome the decriminalisation and I think the law should be repealed altogether."

AMOR, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), is based in Trincity and raises awareness on marijuana. Its 300-plus members participate in activities such as campaigns, hikes, movie nights and yoga.

The rally yesterday was the second as part of AMOR’s ongoing marijuana sensitisation, advocacy and legislative reform campaign.

Antiguan ambassador to Ethiopia and a Rastafarian elder Ras Frank I Francis commended AMOR for inviting him to the rally. The cannabis activist and lobbyist said Antigua and Barbuda had passed two amendments to what was referred to previously as the Dangerous Drugs Act. Francis, the featured speaker, said cannabis was a plant and should not be considered dangerous or a drug.

Francis said, "Nevertheless, that is the legislation under which it comes so we see two amendments towards the liberalisation of the legislation. A few months ago, the Government incorporated the medical and sacramental usages."

He said the prime minister of that country, Gaston Browne, had apologised to the Rastafarian communities for the atrocities that went against the movement.

"He acknowledged and pledged to involve Rastafari in the supposed bonanza that is expected from the whole incorporation from the cannabis industry which looms before us not only in the Caribbean but in the whole world."

People from as far as the US and Canada were at the rally to show their support.

US-based Trinidadian Patsy Bowman, popularly known as Mrs Dr Sebi, urged people to use cannabis to nourish the brain. She is the wife of the Alfredo "Dr Sebi" Bowman, a herbalist and self-proclaimed healer who died in 2016.

Bowman said, "The real diseases here in TT are not cancer, AIDS and so on, its insanity and we use cannabis to nourish the brain and central nerves. I would not recommend the smoking of it, but tea would remove some of the aggressive behaviours that are happening in my country."

She referred to cannabis as one of the greatest herbs on the planet.

There were several booths with displays during the rally that also had an entertainment segment.




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