Features — 14 November 2018
More real disappointment from the anti-weed

Mr. Neri Briceño, on the heels of his article a couple weeks ago (For Real … Johnny? in the Reporter), an article in which he castigated J Briceño for suggesting we explore the legalization of marijuana, followed up with another disappointment, titled, “You too Pablo?”, the core of which is a condemnation of Pablo Marin’s (the Minister of Health) “meeting, soliciting or encouraging investment” in “marijuana or hemp production and cultivation.”

In his commentary on the J Briceño suggestion, Neri pointed out that the status quo (which is illegal marijuana), was a failure. He wrote: “The strategy [decriminalization] has been a liberal approach to the strict marijuana and drug control laws that has clearly not worked.” But he offered no solutions. He just condemned the candle that J Briceño was trying to light.

In his second burn-down-the-ganja-plantation story, Neri wrote: “If we failed to see the mass increase in the number of marijuana related arrests since the decriminalization of 10 grams or the turf violence that has ensued after this, then we are totally blind or need to be led by the nose.”

What an expression of solidarity, a regurgitation of L Wade’s (PLUS TV) ludicrous line, that decriminalization is the reason for a significant increase in the murder rate and accident toll in our country.

The tally for murders for the year is not yet in, and it is a FACT that Belize’s murder rate has been increasing at a frightening rate for years. As for fatal traffic accidents, if the final numbers show an increase, that might have to do with the FACT that there are many, many more motorcycles on our highways (of recent there have been many accidents involving motorbikes) and the governing agency has done nothing special to inform motorcyclists of the inherent dangers in riding small motorbikes on highways.

So, these brothers (N Briceño and L Wade) passed big school math. But did either of them study the government’s enforcement policy after decriminalization? Have police increased the pressure on dealers, decreased the pressure on dealers, or continued status quo since decriminalization? It would be a natural follow that police would decrease the pressure after decriminalization. But you can’t make categorical statements based on assumptions. Everyone I have spoken with says it is the opposite, and my eyes agree. I have seen strong police presence in a couple “known” places where they weren’t before.

What is these guys’ solution? John Briceño says the decriminalization shack should be replaced by a legal structure. Are these gentlemen saying that we should knock down the decrim shack and replace it with a prohibition cement structure, the old regime?

American “Prohibition” allowed people to make their grog, but not in saleable quantities, not to sell it. I believe that little escape valve didn’t ease Prohibition pressure because alcohol is very much a party drug, for people when they are congregating, and because of the sophistication of the wine, beer, rum, whiskey industry. These drinks basically come from a few plants. But the production system has a major effect on product quality.

When the government decriminalized 10 grams, it didn’t say where we would get it from. Selling marijuana is still illegal, prohibited, PROHIBITION. A young man in Belmopan told me, just about the time decrim was being passed, that it wouldn’t work if people weren’t allowed to own a few plants. Decrim should have allowed people to make their “grog”.

We know the horror of alcohol prohibition in the USA. There was mayhem – gangs, murder, and corruption. Thank God Belize did not entertain alcohol prohibition. That is likely the reason why Belize could, in those days, describe herself as a “tranquil haven of democracy.”

If prohibition had been enforced here, no amount of BRITISH “discipline” could have prevented British Honduras from gangs, murder, and corruption. Indeed, when the Governor realized that so many British Hondurans engaged in the illegal trade were earning more money than he was, he would have said cut me een, or cut it out!

If there wasn’t mayhem, if people weren’t forming gangs and committing murder and corrupting public officials, we could ignore the “disappointment” being spouted by L. Wade, and yes, N. Briceño. These guys have their good points, but they are not part of the solution here. We tried prohibition. It was (is) a cruel failure. Neri admitted it …”strict marijuana and drug control laws that have clearly not worked.”

I don’t know if the answer is legalization. But the answer definitely isn’t prohibition. Decriminalization allows adults to express their basic rights. For that alone, decrim deserves good points. Disappointingly, it has not come with increased education, so our young adults get the full truth (as much as we know presently) about the drug’s serious effects on the developing mind.

I’ve heard people say that if marijuana is legalized, small dealers will get dropped from the trade. (I guess the same way small local dealers geh drap when they privatized boledo.)

Here’s what I say to that. People who argue that point do not consider the hidden costs of an illegal trade. An illegal trade severely erodes the dignity of those involved in it, and it makes a terrible climate for legitimate small businesses. They do not consider the criminalizing of innocent people. They do not consider the gangs, the murder, and the corruption associated with an illegal trade.

There’s a heck of a lot to talk about. Yes, we know that there are people in public office who are concerned only about their pockets. My, we really have to elect people who have compassion and common sense.  Yes, there are racketeers in government. But there are many, many talented Belizeans who are sincere about our nation, and if we don’t intentionally complicate, confuse the matter, they will come to the fore with solutions.

Belizeans will support good laws because we aren’t foolish. Sure, we can be fooled some of the time. But in time the truth will out. The truth is out that marijuana prohibition is a criminal, cruel law. And decrim, in its present form, needs some work. How do you allow it with one hand, and then you cut off the hand of the man with a little five pounds to sell? We must work to improve decrim. The only other choice is legalization.

This “disappointment” from the holy corner when our youth and country are under siege does not cut it. Only the lawyers, and the enemies of Belize, are enjoying this. Please, stop unu …

“No” voters really must stop parroting Guat

So what that Guatemala says the British took advantage of a small, weak nation? They claim Belize in the name of Spain, which country absolutely obliterated an entire hemisphere! It is not so hard to know an off pitch when you see or hear it. Guatemala CANNOT use that line.

If we follow Guatemala’s line, then the US must give back territory to Mexico, and Mexico must give back territory to Guatemala, and Panama must go back to Colombia, and the US must return to life Maurice Bishop and Salvador Allende, and return Jacobo Arbenz to Guatemala. And all the borders in Africa must be redrawn. And borders in South America too! And borders in Europe and Asia too!

There is a world pre-1945, and a post-1945. We fought alongside the people who won in 1945. If the Nazis and the Axis powers had won WWII, the Guats would have invaded Belize. And they would have been repelled. The story of 1798 is that Belize will fight.

It is fact, pointed out by Fred Hunter, Sr., that the British did not have the authority to sign treaties on our behalf. The 1798 decision to defend this territory was NOT a British decision. But, the British did sign things. And did the Guatemalans come and occupy after the British signed things? No, they didn’t. Guatemala has never occupied Belize.

One treaty the British signed, that they had the right to sign, was 1859. The story of 1859 is that we possessed this land.

Yes, the compromis does give the ICJ the right to alter our borders, if the judges find that 1859 and our over 200 years of occupation here disrespects the 1492 pope. Why would they do the unthinkable, in the face of truth, in the face of all the evidence that our country is signed, sealed, delivered property of Belizeans? We are going to the ICJ because it is the way to end this claim. The ICJ is the only way to give the stubborn faction in Guatemala, the sense.

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Deshawn Swasey

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