THE EDITOR: Open letter to Prime Minister Dr Rowley.
Many congratulations on your well-deserved victory at the recent general election. If anyone asks me why I think your victory is well-deserved, I will point to your courageous decriminalisation of marijuana as a bold policy in response to the needs of the people. If you remember correctly, I had sent you an open letter long before the election recommending that you should legalise the herb to nice-up the nation, as the people say on the streets.
Well done, Prime Minister! History will remember you as a leader who listened to scientific evidence and provided intellectual and moral leadership even when some religious leaders and conservative politicians continued to press for the colonial laws against marijuana to be retained and used to criminalise the poor masses who choose to use it for recreation or for medication. Tell anyone who wants to continue oppressing the people with anachronistic colonial prohibitions already being abandoned by the colonisers that: Massa Day Done!
Now, I write to you openly again to urge you to keep stepping on this track of advancing freedom for the people by going beyond decriminalisation to authorise the legalisation of the herb that is thousands of times safer than alcohol and tobacco that kill millions around the world and still remain legal simply because they generate tax revenues.
You can tax marijuana sales too to generate huge revenues and at the same time prevent underage children from being able to buy from licensed sellers, deny the drugs gangs their monopoly over the trade, give the farmers an opportunity to create wealth and jobs legitimately, and allow patients who need the herb for medicinal purposes to buy it from the supermarkets rather than go to the shooter around the corner. It is a win-win-win solution for all. Legalise it!
Finally, I appeal to you to use your good offices to drop charges against Nazma Muller who got arrested and was recently detained in the women’s prison, Golden Grove, because of her effort to plant a herb seed to heal the sick. Instead of criminalising her for her heroic activism,
I recommend that you should free-up the herb and appoint her as an Independent senator so that she could provide your government with informed critique of your policy initiatives in order to improve the effectiveness of your leadership in sweet TT.
Full disclosure: Nazma Muller interviewed me for an article, “A brutalised society must be violent,” in the Express when I was a professor at UWI, St Augustine, and I advocated penal abolitionism as the way to reduce violent crimes in the country. That interview was republished by the Express in January 2009 and reprinted as a booklet that was sent to banks later.
One of the policy suggestions that I made in my interview with Muller is the abolition of the death penalty because it brutalises the conscience of the people and that advice led to a paper that I co-authored with David Greenberg of NYU in the British Journal of Criminology to demonstrate that the death penalty is not a deterrent to crime.
Muller and I are also among those credited with written testimonies by the Caricom Regional Commission on Marijuana which recommended a change of policy towards harm reduction.
Feel free to consult me on your policies if necessary.
Professor of Sociology
and Africana Studies
Virginia Tech, USA