Marijuana Farmers Want No Part of Political Wars – Activist
by Lyf Compton
President of the Cannabis Revival Committee (CRC) Junior ‘Spirit’ Cottle is calling on persons who are so bent, to leave traditional marijuana farmers out of political wars.
Cottle, a marijuana activist and a liaison officer with the Medicinal Cannabis Authority (MCA), was commenting on the destruction of a marijuana farm at Richmond Vale, North Leeward on Tuesday January 14.
Police swooped down on the farm and destroyed several cannabis trees belonging to farmer Cecil Edwards. Two workers were detained, but later released without being charged after Cottle made several phone calls.
And while the MCA has refused to comment on the destruction and says the issue is one for the Ministry of National Security, Cottle thinks the incident has severe political implications.
Speaking to SEARCHLIGHT on Monday from his base at The Plant Shop on Lower Bay Street, Cottle pleaded, “I beg you, leave the traditional growers out of politics.”
It has been said by some observers that the farm was destroyed because Edwards’ son provided the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) with an electrical connection for a meeting held in the area the night before the plants were destroyed.
“We are in an election year and the person (Roland ‘Patel’ Matthews) there now won it by a small small number. North Leeward is one of the marginal communities politically, so it doesn’t help the government to do that,” said Cottle who believes that there are several police officers who are trying to derail the medicinal cannabis process.
The NDP’s Matthews defeated the Unity Labour Party’s (ULP) Carlos James by 12 votes in the last General Elections.
“That community is a politically charged community so the message I want to get out to the authorities is, leave traditional growers out of their political war, don’t try to use us a pawn,” Cottle stressed. He added, “we are looking for a livelihood, we are looking for a space in the medical cannabis industry. We are NDP and we are Labour and too long them kind of things have been going on particular when you are dealing with issues concerning production.”
“This kind of behaviour happened under banana, it happened under arrowroot. Now traditional growers are placed in a [good] position and that’s why we are telling them leave us alone.”
Cottle is of the opinion that for the first time in history of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), ordinary people are well placed to make a lot of money to improve their lives significantly.
“…and now politicians want to use us as pawn in that situation? Don’t try to divide us,” said Cottle.
When contacted, Commissioner of Police (COP) Colin John said the matter is being investigated and that the decision to destroy the field did not come from the hierarchy of the police force.
Cottle did note however, that current laws permit the police to destroy the field, but the Government had taken a policy decision and enacted legislation for there to be a period of amnesty.
The ganja farmers spokesperson said that he has been organizing traditional growers into cooperatives and helping to facilitate their participation in the medicinal cannabis industry, so many persons are growing weed with the amnesty in mind.
“That has not been triggered yet, but it is a policy position that the government has taken where there is a climate of tolerance.
“You have to understand that if you are going to have an amnesty for something and it has not been triggered yet, you can’t destroy the produce because if you destroy the produce it means that nothing will be there to bring under the amnesty and we have clarified that …[with] the Commissioner of Police sometime, ago when they eradicated a field in Lowmans,” Cottle said.
“While I call for compensation it would not come. I am not talking about a legal argument, but I am hoping it don’t happen again,” he added.
Cottle said that the destruction has affected the farmer financially as he had already spent money on labour, seeds and other inputs and the police took away about 60 to 70 pounds of weed that can be valued at over EC$20,000 if the cost of a pound is put at EC$300.
He added also that Edwards is a member of the North Leeward Medical Cannabis Growers Cooperative.
The ULP’s caretaker in North Leeward Carlos James refused to comment on the issue when contacted while the parliamentary representative Roland “Patel” Matthews said he has listened to all sides and believes that the raid was politically motivated. He stressed that until he has proof that says otherwise he it sticking to what he thinks.