When prime minister Dr Ralph E Gonsalves gave the information that Ganga amnesty was coming soon while speaking on Hot 97 FM on December 24, 2019, most intelligent listeners coupled that information with what most of us believe is yet another pre-election gimmick.
Saboto Caesar was responding to a question from opposition member of parliament for North Leeward, Roland ‘Patel’ Matthews. In May, this year, Caesar, who piloted the amnesty bill, told parliament that it was to be made operational in early June of 2019 as St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) moved further ahead in establishing its medical marijuana industry. The amnesty bill was passed in parliament in December of 2018, it was said to help traditional marijuana growers to benefit from the Medicinal Marijuana Industry.
At the time, in a commentary I asked the question of how we know once the Ganga is exported what it will be used for. Because once it is in Canada or elsewhere, where the use of Ganga for personal usage is now legal, how do we not know all and sundry are not just smoking it.
In SVG the Act provides for granting an amnesty to those involved in cannabis cultivation contrary to Section 8 of the Drug Prevention and Misuse Act, and any other relevant enactments, who may otherwise be liable to criminal prosecution for certain criminal offenses and other proceedings under that Act or pertinent other proceedings enforced.
The regulations had been drafted, and they were slated to be gazetted on or before June 3, and fully operational on, or before, June 3, 2019. But they have been delayed and delayed while during this time numerous people have been prosecuted under the old law. The conclusion is once again, the delay has come about because the government is holding back so as it can coincide with the calling of elections. Of course, that ruse has been seen through by a lot of us, including one of the few intelligent Vincentian lawyers like Connel Grant.
The question was asked in one online news media “Was Grant Connell right that Ganga amnesty would coincide with general elections?” For not yet implementing the law, they have blamed the police saying, or inferring, they at the moment are too stupid to administer the new laws and would require intensive training.
On Christmas Eve 2019, prime minister Gonsalves told Hot 97 FM that many administrative things “have to be put in place properly to make sure that when the amnesty is enacted that we correspond with everything to roll it out in a proper way.” But what we the people have to suffer is not the Ganga laws because the majority of us have never used it and will never use it. What we have to suffer are the lies, innuendos, and bent truths, as if we are children unable to accept or understand the real situation.
The very latest from Gonsalves is that the medical marijuana licenses they have granted have not been paid for. The government has only received $5 million of the $15 million we were previously told they had collected. According to Gonsalves the licensees cannot send SVG the money they owe because the banking system will not allow them to. But once again that is bent truth, perhaps there are difficulties. But the real problem is that the Marijuana market has collapsed in the US and Canada. As the British Broadcasting Service wrote and broadcast, “The Bubble Has Burst.”
The BBC said; “More than a year ago, Canada made recreational cannabis legal. So why are people still buying it on the black market?
When Canada legalized marijuana just over a year ago, it seemed like anyone who was anyone wanted to break into the market. The media nicknamed the frenzy Canada’s “green rush,” as investors like Snoop Dogg and the former head of Toronto’s police force clamored to get a slice of the multi-billion-dollar-pie. But like the gold rush of the 1850s, the luster would soon fade, leaving prospectors in the dust.
“It didn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize that these stocks were trading on fantasy and not on fundamentals,” says Jonathan Rubin, chief executive officer (CEO) of New Leaf Data Services. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-50664578
It appears that the users can buy the product cheaper from illegal sources than from government licensed shops and outlets.
What the Unity Labour Party (ULP) government does is a copy or emulation of what others do or say. They have always been incapable of coming up with their own ideas. So they are still at the back of the crowd, never in front, never the forerunners. Having left the marijuana matter for so many years, the crowd in front of them may have had some success, while they once again will be left bathing in failure.
But failure is something they dare not mention with the coming elections; failure is a negative word. So we are fed once again a mixture of half-truths and lies. Well, I, for one, am fed up with all the lies, lies about just about everything. If not lie’s, it’s half-truths, which to me are worse than downright lies. Because half-truths are sown solely for deception, discreetly and conspiratly cloaked in a little truth to trick and decieve.
So where from here? That is a difficult question to answer. Because most of the people who were granted licenses by this grossly business ignorant ULP government were new start-up companies with little or no assets except the new license from SVG, companies that were relying on foreign investors buying stock in those companies. Now that the market has crashed, many investors will have lost their investment. Other investors who were considering investing will hold back, likely never invest in Ganga.
In many parts where personal use of marijuana use is now legal, people can legally grow their marijuana in their gardens. It may be that we should make the drug legal for all purposes and allow everyone to grow what they want, and use it at will.
They made it legal to use all drugs in Portugal, and since then, drug users and abusers have dropped by about 75 percent. Portugal decriminalized the use of all drugs in 2001. Weed, cocaine, heroin, you name it — Portugal decided to treat possession and use of small quantities of these drugs as a public health issue, not a criminal one.
The drugs were still illegal, of course. But now getting caught with them meant a small fine and maybe a referral to a treatment program — not jail time and a criminal record. Gonsalves Ganga law stipulates a $500 fine for possession of a very small amount. That is much more than most will be able to afford, and once again is the ULP government trying to earn from others misfortune.
The growing, smoking and trading in cannabis in St Vincent and the Grenadines is a tradition which has gone on fairly openly for longer than any living man can remember. It should continue as a tradition and not be used by our government to obtain money or to punish our citizens for.
After many lawyers including Gonsalves have earned their living from it for years, by defending those captured for growing, dealing, trading, transporting, and using it. To make it completely legal In SVG, will free up the police to do real police work, and may even save the figures having to be massaged to try and prove to us pre-election that the SVG police are beating crime, which in my opinion is just a bunch more lie’s.
This year I have seen many nastier violent crimes than ever before, we the people are living among it. So to try and tell us it’s not happening, or happening less, questions our whole sensibility.
We must demand the truth; even withholding the truth can be equated to telling us a lie.
Hurt me with the truth, but never comfort me with a lie.
Instead of the Gonsalves controlled ULP government seeking to bleed the Vincentian marijuana users of every cent they can. Instead of making our people unemployable with a life long blight and blemish on their future. The nasty ULP should at the very least be taking a leaf from the book of the US State of Illonois. They should make using and possession of Ganga legal. They should then pardon all the people who have been prosecuted in the past for minor drug offences.
Illinois governor JB Pritzker granted more than 11,000 pardons for low-level marijuana convictions on Tuesday, describing the step as a first wave of thousands of such expungements anticipated under the state’s new marijuana legalization law.
The expungement process is a key part of the law, which takes effect on Wednesday and makes Illinois the 11th state to legalize marijuana for people 21 or older. Lawmakers said they wanted to repair some of the damage caused by efforts to combat sale and use of the drug, particularly in minority communities.
Pritzker, a Democrat, announced the pardons at a church on Chicago’s South Side. He said clearing the misdemeanour offenses from individuals’ records would make it easier for them to get jobs, housing and financial aid for college.