On a High

It’s a sacrament. It’s sacred. It’s how we communicate with our ancestors. Genesis 1:29 says the earth brought forth grass and herb-bearing seed, and the Lord saw that it was good. I don’t see how men could see that it is not,” said Ras I’an, a Rastafarian Priest. 

He drapes a hand-crochet prayer scarf, clutches a Rastafarian flag bearing the lion of Judah and enters the Mount Carmel Tabernacle, tucked in the Barbadian parish of St. John. 

This Tabernacle is different. It has no doors or windows, and the floor is the land.

Creating Standards

High standards mean a world-class product. The specialised standards regulate the agricultural, manufacturing and active pharmaceutical ingredients.  

General standards for the Medicinal Cannabis Industry. (Sourced from Herbal Cannabis for Medical Use: A Spectrum of Regulatory Approaches – World Drug Report 2023)

General standards for the Medicinal Cannabis Industry. (Sourced from Herbal Cannabis for Medical Use: A Spectrum of Regulatory Approaches – World Drug Report 2023)

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently released its updated recommendations based on a “multi-year review process conducted by the Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD). A sub-report was also created by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s (UNODC) World Drug Report 2023 under the subheading “Contemporary issues on drugs” sub-report 3, “Herbal Cannabis for Medical Use: A Spectrum of Regulatory Approaches”. 

To set a standard, a level is set to constitute what is considered medicinal.

Legislation and Decriminalisation

One of the major hurdles is the contentious issue of legality. It’s the root of funding, investment, industry acceptance and participation.  

One of the Barbados Government’s first steps was to lay the legal framework. The Barbados Medicinal Cannabis Industry Act and the Sacramental Cannabis Act were passed in November 2019, followed by decriminalising measures with the Drug Abuse (Prevention and Control) (Amendment) Act in 2021. Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley also pledged that Barbadians will vote in a future referendum on legalising cannabis. Opening paragraph of the Drug Abuse (Prevention and Control) (Amendment) Act 2020 (Designed by Esther Jones)

A news clip explaining the amendments to the Drug Abuse (Prevention and Control) Act.

The Tropical Journey of a Firearm

Bridgetown, Barbados – The popular Barbadian dancehall and soca artiste ‘Lil Rick stares into the camera, warning all “informers” while gunfire and images of firearms punctuate the beat.

The over sixteen-minute popular “Trojan Riddim” video features several popular Barbadian chanters, dancehall artists, and rappers. Their explicit lyrics, though fictitious, often become actual newspaper headlines leaving several Barbadians demanding answers on how illegal firearms end up in Barbados in the first place.

“Not My Child”

In Barbados, starting school means having your uniform, school supplies and up-to-date vaccination book. This scenario is so routine that many parents and children view it as a regular part of growing up. This tradition aided in the elimination of smallpox, measles, mumps and rubella. Despite this norm, some parents are going against the zeitgeist and delaying or opting out of vaccinating their children. This small shift is creating fear among doctors that once-eradicated diseases can resurge.

Mental Break

Although the data is still being gathered, lawmakers, experts, teachers, and parents give anecdotal evidence that the COVID-19 lockdowns created mental stress for young people, especially young men. This series explores this topic through the eyes, ears and hearts of all those who have a hand in the development of young men in Barbados.

Barbados: The Cost of Being a Climate Champion

Jutting out of the ocean as if a battle-weathered warrior is the island nation of Barbados, one of the many Small Island Developing States holding the frontline against the effects of climate change.    

Despite Barbados’ position on the battlefield, they did not start this war and did not set the rules of engagement. Instead, Barbados has to wage a campaign at international climate conventions to open up funding sources and adjust universal goals to suit its own reality. Nowhere is this more evident than in two paradigm-shifting projects: the new fishing regulations, which focus on measures to protect marine life, and the island-wide conversion to electrified vehicles by 2030. Though meeting climate objectives are high on the minds of Barbadians, experts are urging leaders to ensure that climate policies do not neglect the country’s unique circumstances.  

 “There are clear ways you could see that things aren’t tailored for our situation,” said Dr Shelly-Ann Cox, Ocean Professional Fisheries Management Specialist and CEO of Blue Shell Productions. ”And there are clear ways that you can see it could help, but then [we get] overwhelmed, there are no resources to build it out.

COVID-19’s Deadly NCD Connection

An estimated seven out of every 10 deaths in Barbados are linked to a non-communicable disease (NCD). 

The connection between NCDs and complications associated with COVID-19 is also well established as this opportunistic virus thrives on NCDs, weakening an already compromised system. Although the high incidence of non-communicable diseases in Barbados did not start with COVID-19, the pandemic has revealed holes in the system to address them. The situation also puts to the test traditions and behaviours surrounding NCD triggers

For the island, this presents a multi-pronged challenge to its public health assets. Barbados has long been keeping a close eye on what has been recognised as a high incidence of NCDs including hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases (diseases that affect the heart and blood vessels), cancers and pulmonary diseases.  

To that has recently been added a fifth category: mental health disease. Once included, the numbers rise and, along with them, the cost of healthcare.