Thu | Nov 14, 2019

Religion & Culture | Our own worst enemy - Have we allowed the ganja horse to already leave the barn?

Published:Sunday | February 10, 2019 | 12:09 AM
FILE
In this April 24, 2018 photo, a hemp plant is pollinated at the Unique Botanicals facility in Springfield, Oregon, in the United States.  Senator Ron Wyden from Oregon has proposed legislation that would give states a free hand to allow legal marijuana markets without the threat of federal criminal intervention.
FILE In this April 24, 2018 photo, a hemp plant is pollinated at the Unique Botanicals facility in Springfield, Oregon, in the United States. Senator Ron Wyden from Oregon has proposed legislation that would give states a free hand to allow legal marijuana markets without the threat of federal criminal intervention.

I stare at the television screen, bedazzled by the record earnings of these start-up companies.

Marijuana stocks are soaring and the wealthy are getting wealthier. And the prognostications of CEOs and financial pundits are in tandem: “a strong buy, a strong buy; bet on cannabis; three marijuana stocks on the way to US$100 billion market cap; marijuana stocks just keep soaring higher ...”

Yes, marijuana stocks, the best thing since sliced bread, are the hottest stock picks.

And amazed I was that these pundits looked so much like the plantation owners of yore: white-skinned and unabashed, poised and confident.

They eye money, loads and loads of it. They are always 10 steps ahead. They are salivating, overly expectant of the windfall. Businessmen and visionaries, Adept at monetising a product, a product that flourishes, by the grace of nature in Jamaica and my native land of Trinidad, and every Caribbean country.

It is a blessing, but not for us who must now play catch-up. It’s too late. The horse has left the barn, and so, the billions just said goodbye. Too late, too late will always be our cry.

For us black folks, this prized commodity has conjured so much pain — law enforcement, batons, guns drawn, wild foot chases, stop and frisk searches, courthouses, incarceration and ruination — all over a joint.

The war of drugs has always been a race war. A race war spearheaded by Nixon and championed by his successors and their Caribbean sycophants.

Another effort to annihilate the black male. Jail awaits us while a luxury rehab is reserved for the lighter shade, guilty of using hard, unforgiving drugs.

Incredible but true, parcels of land incinerated by overhead jets and sniffing hounds in pursuit of the poor.

While we criminalised marijuana, the interloper discovered its worth: medicinal, recreational. They have surely mastered the art of monetisation.

And I wonder. Oh, the resources we cast aside, others covet. Surely we have swallowed the poisonous pill of colonialism. We have been long dying – at our own hands. There is no future for a people without vision.

And ever self-righteous, we shun the so-called devil that resides in Vodun. But not so the white interlopers. They embrace what we shun, stealing secrets from the religion we fear, secrets that we could have monopolised for our own good.

Surely, the Jatropha plant (essential to Vodun) is the next marijuana, its potential for biofuel now promoted at a dizzying pace. And a captive audience in United States Congress awaits.

Alas, the Voodoo priest gives up the secrets for nothing. Secrets that could have delivered him from poverty. But blinded, he sees it not. So weighed down by life, surrenders the secret, none the wiser. But there is no one to protect him from the thief.

Lost sheep, we are led by self-serving shepherds. The potential for billions evaporates. A market now saturates.

We grovel at the feet of the interloper. Trained we are to caress, not bite the hand that steals from us. Every hate, every weapon at our disposal, we turn on ourselves. Not against those deserving of it.

No doubt, we are our own worst enemy.

And I recall the wisdom of Frantz Fanon: “...There are too many idiots in this world. And having said it, I have the burden of proving it.”

And never will I forget Nigerian singer, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, who railed against this fatal disease in song.Colonial Mentality, he called it.

And it was our own Bob Marley who warned us to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery.

But, I am afraid that ours is a problem far more complex than colonialism, far more damning. Far more damning.

Dr Glenville Ashby is the liaison for UComeafrik Spiritual Journey to the Sacred Forest and Osun Oshogbo River, Shrines and Grooves in Benin Republic and Nigeria. Feedback: glenvilleashby@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter@glenvilleashby