Friday 23 August, 2019

Lucian Rasta community wants to benefit from potential legalization

Burnet Sealy, chairman of the Caribbean Rastafarian Organization.

Burnet Sealy, chairman of the Caribbean Rastafarian Organization.

The Rastafarian community in Saint Lucia is pushing for the formation of a cooperative in order to ensure that they benefit from the legalization of cannabis should government decide to do so.

That’s according to the Chairman of the Caribbean Rastafarian Organization (CRO) Saint Lucian Burnet Sealy in an interview with Loop News.

“Without a cooperative, what will happen is that the “big guys” will hire the traditional growers to plant for them and pay them whatever they feel like... But with the model of cooperative we are suggesting, we are hoping to eliminate that type of situation.” Sealy explained.

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He added: “What we realized is that multinational corporations and all the people with money are now jumping ahead… because now cannabis has been described as a billion dollar industry.”

Sealy said they have had discussions on the matter as it relates to the formation of a cooperative with several government departments, including Agriculture, Education, Health and Sustainable Development and that the feedback from them has been encouraging. “They seem to be on board with the idea,” he said.

Sealy said that they are hoping that the cooperative will facilitate trading, adding that it will not only be for the Rastafarian community, but also for growers, processors and users.

He lamented that some people are pushing for cannabis to be decriminalized rather than legalized, which he said will not be of any benefit to Saint Lucians. “If it is legalized it will be like a commodity, and we will be able to export it and process its by-products."

However, Sealy's major concern is the tardiness in government implementing the recommendations of CARICOM as it relates to the decriminalization and legalization of cannabis in the Caribbean region. “Our government is lapsing, sleeping…, they are not proactive."

Sealy also lamented the fact that some people are treating cannabis as if it is the most dangerous thing in the world. “They tend to call it a drug but it’s just to create fear in the minds of people,” he said, adding that holistically, it’s not a drug but a natural plant. “Tomatoes have substances which when separated from the fruit can be called a drug which can be used for medicinal purposes, so will they call tomatoes a drug?” he asked.

Sealy said for many years now, the Rastafarian community has been trying to impress upon successive governments the value of cannabis to the country and the need to legalize it. “From the beginning, Rastafarians have been describing cannabis as the healing of the nation,” he said.

According to him, the Caribbean has the potential to supply cannabis to the whole world. “We don’t have to grow it in any laboratory or in any particular light. We can grow it in the natural environment,” he said.

He recalled the days when Americans soldiers would come to islands such as Saint Vincent and Saint Lucia to destroy cannabis and take samples back with them to conduct experiments noting that this is how the hybrid type of cannabis was developed.

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