More calls for inmates to be allowed access to illegal drug
Erica Virtue, Senior Gleaner Writer
Former prison doctor-turned-politician Raymoth Notice is advocating for the controlled use of marijuana in the island's prisons.
According to Notice, there is great benefit from the use of ganja in the prisons, especially because it is an antidepressant for inmates with HIV/AIDS.
"Ganja must run in the prisons," said Notice.
"I have written about it, and it is still my view that the controlled use of ganja by inmates is the best thing for the prison officials," added Notice.
The outspoken medical doctor pointed out that seven years ago he made the call for the matter to be studied.
Seven years later, Notice is reiterating his position arguing that the use of ganja in the prisons provides a golden opportunity to scientifically explore its useful effects.
Former prisoners and ex-warders support Notice's notion that penal institutions cannot function without inmates having access to the weed.
One man, who spent 20 years in a maximum security prison for various crimes, including robbery, shooting and firearm possession, argued that the prisons would experience frightening levels of violence if prisoners did not have access to ganja.
Ganja keeps them calm
He argued that it is the ganja that keeps some prisoners from going berserk, maiming and killing each other and the warders who run the facilities.
"Weed run the prisons and without it, there would be war," said the man who served his time and has been returned to society.
"Watch what happens in the prisons if three days pass and man don't get some weed. You get stabbed fi di simplest thing. A dat mi a tell you," said the ex-convict.
According to the ex-convict, ganja helps to reduce the levels of depression in the prisons, leaving a calming effect.
But weed in prison proves to be an expensive tranquiliser, as a mint-sized ball of ganja which would sell for $20 on the street is sold for $100 or more behind bars.
But cost is not a deterrent, as ganja seems to be the psychological drug of choice of many prisoners who use it to cope with long sentences.
"When you think about your children, yuh girl, the people dem weh you love, things you miss doing, and can't do anymore, the weed is a comforter. It calms the spirit.
"When man frass (don't smoke fi days), warders dem 'fraid 'cause dem know di potential fi rioting is at a maximum," said the ex-con.
That was supported by a warder who spent more than a decade working in the prison system.
"I never used to carry in no weed but me know the man them have it and a pure trouble some man gi when them can't get a spliff (a hand-rolled ganja cigarette)."
Boasting that he is free of smoke related or mental illness despite smoking the weed for many years while incarcerated, the ex-con argued, "I would a mad long time if it wasn't for ganja, and the whole prison population would a mad too. If ganja no deh a prison, it's like the whole prison set on fire."
According to the ex-con, when prisoners are happy, warders are comfortable.
Notice also agrees although he wants research to take place on a long-term basis to verify the effects of the usage of ganja on both warders and prisoners.
But with the prison bosses not yet ready to officially sanction the use of ganja in the facilities, inmates aided by some warders get the weed through the prison gates.
When that doesn't work, they turn to other methods such as just having persons, on the outside throw the weed over the fence.
Oftentimes weed, stuffed in boxes or plastic bottles, is tossed on to the prison compound at prearranged times.