History of CBD and Cannabis: Barbados
Located in the Caribbean, Barbados has a long history with local marijuana cultivation and consumption.
Cannabis, CBD, and Barbados
In 2019, Barbados announced that it was looking to propose legislation to legalize the medical sale, use, and distribution of marijuana on the island. This would make Barbados the last Caribbean nation to push forward cannabis reform policy out of twelve other islands in the Antilles region.
Currently, government officials state that the reason reform didn’t come sooner is that they didn’t want to rush different departments into action. “I would rather we got it right than to hurry and get it wrong. We have to function within what works for Barbados,” attorney general Dave Marshall stated about the issue.
Even though most officials are receptive to legalization, the debate of cannabis reform has become a hotly contested issue on the island. Strong opposition from Christian communities and large donors had stalled previous decriminalization and religious exception attempts.
Before the passage of the law, the major determinant of cannabis policy was defined by the narcotics treaty of the 1969 United Nations Convention. The new plan will seek to establish administrative overhead for a fully fledged medical marijuana policy on Barbados.
So, why did it take so long to push ahead cannabis reform on the island? Despite local pressure from residents, Caribbean governments have traditionally held very prohibitive stances on marijuana and nonviolent drug offenses.
During the eighties, United States and other Western nations posited that marijuana had an extremely detrimental effect on youth and national culture. The War on Drugs created an international environment extremely hostile to the potential benefits of cannabis reform and legalization.
Caribbean nations and islands were just as susceptible to this pressure as other Central Asian, South American, and European countries.
Illicit marijuana was increasingly defined to refer to any plant that fell under the cannabis genus. In Barbados, this meant that hemp, which contains less than 0.3 percent of the psychoactive substance THC, was seen as a dangerous substance that could be used for recreational purposes.
In order to new legislation to configure with old policy, a great deal of legal work will need to be done to redefine marijuana. Additionally, marijuana will need to be posited as a substance that can be used for personal benefit rather than a deeply dangerous Schedule I drug. For youth groups and Christian organizations on Barbados, this is an untenable position.
Experts believe it may take time for the administration to catch up to recent medical marijuana policy that’s currently under review. Decriminalization and legalization policies may have to subvert organizational and judicial hesitation in order to take full effect in the next decade.