COMMENTARY: Cannabis Legalization what a deafening Silence!

Dr. Irving Pascal

In November of 2018 after the Leader of the Opposition declared Team Dominica’s willingness to consider legalization of Cannabis when elected, there was a flurry of public statements from ruling party. Officials followed by holding a hastily convened National Cannabis Consultation. This consultation was stunning in that it revealed a disturbing conservatism as well as an appalling ignorance of the contemporary social issues and the scientific knowledge of the Cannabis plant by the officials on the committee. During the consultation Dr Donald Peters, Chairperson and Rayburn Blackmore Minister of National Security, promised to actively engage the public with further discussion and consultations to inform a national cannabis policy. It has been six months and not even a whisper!. This deafening silence on Cannabis liberalization  from the administration in a pre-election year, clearly indicates that there will be little or no debate or dialogue on pressing national issues in this election cycle.

The experience in other countries has demonstrated that dealing with Cannabis liberalization after such a prolonged demonization is indeed a complex and challenging issue. It requires honesty, transparency and informed, unbiased, diligent and committed work. This is extremely important in order to maximize benefits and minimize associated risks especially to the young and vulnerable population. It would indeed be a blessing if this silence is an admission of the lack of preparedness and competence to deal with this important national issue by the administration. They have an election to win!!

Call it cynical but I think the embattled administration has accepted the advice that the political capital does not outweigh the potential political fallout among the conservative section of the  voting population. This unusual silence could also signal a deeper malaise within this administration that suggests a lack of clear cohesive plans and policies in agriculture, health and tourism. Symbiotic linkages and visionary leadership in these sectors are crucial to any successful cannabis policy in the Nature Isle. Any such  policy will be challenged to 1)address strict practical and realistic regulations whether you legalize or decriminalize; 2)to immediately address humanitarian issues of reparative justice such as expunging of criminal records and possible compensation; 3) to act with alacrity to secure niche markets in the  health, wellness, agriculture and tourism sectors locally and international by developing an authentic NATURE ISLAND natural brand; 4)to ensure local participation and control at all stages of the industry and 5) to protect the financial assets accrued from the Cannabis economy.

Cannabis liberalization is here to stay; it can’t be wished away. There has been too much related injustice and inhumanity that needs repair. Furthermore, the potential benefits to the health sector and the resuscitation of our agriculture economy it presents are much too much to be ignored. I implore  those responsible for guiding the process to do the work, get the facts and muster the strength and courage to further the debate and dialogue. I do hope the politicians will not squander the opportunity afforded by the election campaign to educate and inform the population on the Cannabis issue. This would help the next government to focus on implementation of a Cannabis policy endorsed by the majority for the benefit of ALL Dominicans.

May the spirits of the ancestors be pleased.

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  1. Joseph John
    May 9, 2019

    Doc, why is the medical profession so silent on the benefits of exercise and staying active ? Is it because when you are “high” on ganga you become dormant and can be more easily controlled?
    Why is the medical professionals so silent on the fact that carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and methane are poisons associated with smoke.
    Why is the medical profession so silent on the stats of people who have gone to rehab because of ganga.
    Pro-ganga agents are trying to con people that ganga is a cure it all, a cure for all kinds medication that does not need prescriptions. Is this the new ethical practice ?

    • Pablov
      May 10, 2019

      Although I think he should not politicise this, clearly you are blinded by the need to win next election but I suspect with all info out there you know of the endocannabinoid system of the bodyt and maliciously/deliberately want to keep your fellow Dominicans in the dark; at least till after you win the next election, that in itself is stupid tho.

  2. Pablov
    May 8, 2019

    I’m pro legalization, but why do you have to bring this to the political arena??
    Dr. Pascal legalization will potentially fix many issues especially those who suffer ailments and those whose lives are made miserable imprisoned by this stupid law but your exploiting the issue to score political points serves no useful purpose. This is too important to politicize.

  3. Ras PJoe
    May 8, 2019

    Marijuana “liberalization” aka legalization is a new form of mental colonization. And it Is disappointing that allegedly woke people like Eipigh are falling in line and serving as shills for white Europeans and Americans. The claims of vast economic gains for minority communities have not panned out. The jury is still out on claims of significant criminal justice reform and simply further stigmatize black communities as havens of potheads. The medical claims have some validity bit apparently much more research is needed. The denial that cannabis is a gateway drug is belied by the evidence. One only has to watch who is championing the marijuana effort to understand who really stands to benefit. Disappointing

    • Country Man
      May 9, 2019

      Wake Up Ras – Read what made Cannabis a class 1 drug in the US and you will quickly recognize that it was based on fear and racism.

  4. marcus
    May 8, 2019

    When you hire dimples and not brains you end up with a lot of leaders with no vision, then the people who follow them perish and the entire Island’s population for that matter.

  5. lisad
    May 7, 2019

    Strupes!!!So I P, that’s all you find to bring to the political table?

    • time has told
      May 9, 2019

      IP is not a politician. He is an advocate for the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana. Nowhere on the political rosters will you see his name. “Political table”. what you need to worry about is what the politicians use to entice you. that is what they bring. The hope of change, then nothing. Nothing! 2019.

  6. May 7, 2019

    While we make statements to support our political colors, we seem to be ignoring reality. When cannabis becomes globally accepted, the Caribbean will be made irrelevant as this industry will be controlled from farm to market by the big corporations like Dole, Chikita, pharmacuetical companies and the likes of Phillip Morris. With all our fertile soil look what happened to our lime and banana industries. How are we going to protect ourselves from the sharks that will control this industry. So dream on

    • Dion St Hilaire
      May 8, 2019

      Oh please, let’s take a look at the plant “coffee”. It is branded differently, from all over the world, every country who produce coffee gives it a different name. Why don’t you think we can brand this product, ie as cloud 9, because of our regional location, how and where it is grown, will be the difference from the companies name mention above?

    • Joseph John
      May 8, 2019

      Anon thanks for your contribution. There are many people who are conned into becoming agents of the big western corporations by accident or by designed.
      Remember when we were the leaders of coffee, cacao, sugar , tobacco and bananas to name a few. Remember when rubber was key in Africa. Remember when Chiquita took bananas from us with their agent saying to cut down bananas and plant peppers. This is the same scenario with ganger. The big corporation are like thieves in the night grabbing everything in sight. They have already invested in the production of ganger in the USA in designated cities. They want us to believe that legal ganga is international. what a con job.
      The big and best lie is that ganga is good for you. It is like nutritious food.
      Smoke from cigarettes and burnings are not good for you but ganga is. Burning pollutes the air but ganga will not destroy your lungs. It is a gateway to bigger drugs. I have seen first hand how distruck it can be. Speak to it smokers.

    • Dominican
      May 9, 2019

      Philip Morris sell a lot of cigarettes but they do not sell Cuban Cohiba cigars, if you dismiss the inferior quality of the same brand, copied and produced in the Dominican Republic for the U.S. market. The Americans, however, recognise the value of a quality brand, hence their protracted battle with the Cubans to get their own Cohiba registered. Real connoisseurs do know the difference and will always prefer the Cuban version!
      We should shy away from trying to compete in volume product markets for essential goods and instead develop our own products that convey exclusivity and demand a premium. The French are doing so with their wines and cognacs for instance and likewise the Jamaicans with their blue mountain coffee. We can never be competitive in commodity markets, nor could we meet their demand or be cheap enough.The same kind of approach can be applied to to any finished goods we care to produce locally , using local ingredients.

  7. REAL!!!!
    May 7, 2019

    Balls less and incapable men in high places….This is what the DLP has become.

    Lead by a Political Leader who ONLY looks at how he can get richer while making the Dominican people poorer.

    This Cannabis opportunity will provide too much economical independence for the regular Dominicans and the DLP cannot have it that way.

  8. Mr. Ben Dover
    May 7, 2019

    Doc if i were you i wouldnt have said anything. We all know it is another carrot in front of our faces because they think were are all donkeys. They used it the last time, then he spoke about wanting it to be discussed on a regional level first, he never told us that it was already being discussed on the CARICOM level, so much that consultations had already taken place since 2014/15. In 2018 you had the consultation but all your senior heads chuckled and shook their heads at facts and data. Clearly nothing will be done. I say dominica needs anther 8 years for those people from since the 70’s to come out there. they hthat have the country moving slow so. Tine to be revolutionary. Not follow fashion haphazardly without a clear understand as to why the fashion came about in the first place.

  9. carlty
    May 7, 2019

    I stand by my views on the legalization of cannabis. I despise how we in the Small Island Developing states feel the need to follow the lead of the Developed States. With all the positive attributes of Cannabis, we must ALSO note the negative aspect, especially on our young people, our future. We need to ensure that we go into this with measures to turn this into a sustainable strategy and not just something that will help us now with no regard for the future. Remember that compared to the US and UK, our population is municipal and we cannot afford to have any percentage of our future and even current population experiencing any of the negative aspects of Cannabis. I know it’s a plant but would we be reckless with poison ivy given its benefits. Let us ensure that we cross all T’s and dot all I’s going into this.

    • Pipo
      May 7, 2019

      Carly’s, what do you mean by our population is municipal. To me that would mean they all live in town. And what would that have to do with differentiating our cannabis use with that of USA or England anyway. Yes, smoking is not healthy, any smoking, and yes cannabis can cause psychosis but that is why we have to research and promote the positive properties of this plant when it is properly regulated. People with cancer get great relieve from prescribed morphine, which comes from the poppy plant, like heroine. Both heroine and less so morphine are addictive but so are tobacco and alcohol. People take digitalis, derived from the poisonous deadly nightshade plant, to regulate their heart. We should at least examine cannabis fully and see in what positive way it can help us medically.

      • carlty
        May 8, 2019

        minuscule* Thanks for the correction. Why I am comparing it is, let us not rush into it because the US is doing it or we know the benefits; their economy can handle a shock considering their population size, ours can’t. We ALREADY have an issue with cannabis abuse here among our young people we have seen the outcome of this and have been trying to curb it for years. They certainly aren’t using it for medical purposes and we know what the abuse/ overuse of anything can do to the body, aside from the negative aspect of cannabis. “We have to research and promote the positive properties.”Realistically, that will help? We both know the answer to that. Plus, as much as I respect my Rastafarian brothers and their beliefs, I don’t believe that anything should be inhaled into the body that is not oxygen. But as a medicinal agent, yes. And we have to ensure that we pursue it the right way that our opportunity cost is not greater than the benefits.

    • Country Man
      May 7, 2019

      Well Carlty, we can sit with our hands under our bottom while the rest of the world create pathways to end the great injustice – criminalize cannabis which resulted in immeasurable misery to millions of people. Well CBD are legal all over the US, Hemp is now on the US Farm Bill but we holding strong to the evil policies that were driven by the US.

    • Mr. Ben Dover
      May 8, 2019

      Why dont you list all the negative aspects so that we can possibly educate you on how these fears have been managed.

    May 7, 2019

    Weed use to be completely legal in America, it was even taxed at one point. It was made illegal because of some racist research that stated “Cannabis makes black men go crazy and rape white women” , then the video entitled reefer madness was introduced, America with it’s fear of black and brown people made it illegal, now they are mass producing and researching it whilst blacks are still being jailed for it. WAKE UP DOMINICA!!! We have a cash crop here that can bring us further than Bananas ever could.

    • Toto
      May 7, 2019

      Man, get rid of that monkey on your back.

      • time has told
        May 8, 2019

        Toto you comment was meant to say what? forget the past? or forget about marijuana? What is the monkey on his back that he should get rid of?

  11. Lord help us
    May 7, 2019

    Cancer is a multi million dollar a year business, big pharma (the pharmaceutical companies) lobby billions to ensure that cannabis is kept illegal in the Caribbean. The reason is simple yet disgusting, the Caribbean countries like Dominica with it’s fertile lands will outsell even the U.S in sales and research in this field. Cannabis is versatile, not just for smoking and getting high (something you can do with many legal plants and legal drugs), you can build with the materials made from the plant, lumber, textiles even cars and plane parts can be produced with it. It is illegal in Dominica because we follow fashion wit making our laws , everything America make illegal we want to do as well.

    • Not too smart
      May 7, 2019

      No, big pharma does not spend a cent to ensure that cannabis is kept illegal in the Caribbean. No, Dominica with it’s fertile lands could not outsell even a small marijuana growing company in Canada, much less outsell the U.S. As an example, CannTrust, one of the smaller cannabis producers in Canada, is now set to produce 200,000-300,000 kilos (about 440,000 lbs) of cannabis annually using a combination of greenhouses, hydroponics and outdoor land.

      • Lord help us
        May 9, 2019

        You seem to not know what you are attempting to talk about, These guys make “medical marijuana” which is a completely different thing, it is a byproduct of marijuana , laced with chemical components that have been proven to damage people’s health in the long run, also, as of today, they have been taking a major dive in the international stock market so i don’t see them being around much longer.

  12. Mr. Ben Dover
    May 7, 2019

    “This consultation was stunning in that it revealed a disturbing conservatism as well as an appalling ignorance of the contemporary social issues and the scientific knowledge of the Cannabis plant by the officials on the committee.” Tell it like it is Doc. Not everyone will want to hear the truth. but that is how it all played out.

    It consultation was just to go through the process. These heads laugh at the notion of it becoming legal. Nothing will be done under their rule. We still living in fear like we are in the Dread Act times.

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