February 13, 2009
Simmons: Ganja men complaining

Marijuana farmers in Chateaubelair have expressed concerns to Community Activist Andrew Simmons about the increased number of raids on their plantations by police.{{more}}

Speaking at a Chamber of Industry and Commerce forum last Monday, February 9, at the Methodist Church Hall, Simmons said that he recently had an audience with a group of ganja farmers who expressed these concerns to him.

Simmons was at the time addressing a group of businessmen about the social impact of the global financial crisis and somehow linked the ganja men’s plight to this topic.

“A number of times we don’t want to talk about the issue, but I know that a significant part of our revenue is being generated by that (marijuana farming), so it doesn’t make any sense that we try to run away from this. They expressed some concerns that the police are increasing their raids,” Simmons said.

He said that he was working with the group in an effort to help them find alternative forest livelihood, strategies and programmes.

According to Simmons, “They are at the stage where they can’t get their stuff sell and they are faced with raids from the police.”

Simmons’ comments have come in for sharp criticism from Commissioner of Police Keith Miller, who confirmed that police have intensified their battle against the marijuana trade, and stressed that there will be no letting off.

“How can people encourage and condone criminality?” asked Miller, who deemed Simmons’ reference of the plight of the persons involved in the illegal drug trade as “insensitive.”

“It is not just a cash issue,” said Miller.

He told SEARCHLIGHT that the contribution the drug trade brings economically to the country cannot make up for the negatives that are accompanying the trade.

Miller said that a number of persons from Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago are making their way to St Vincent and the Grenadines because of the drug trade, and bringing with them their seasoned criminal and violent minds, which can be a detriment to law and order here.

Miller also dismissed any talk about lack of employment running the ganja men to the hills.

“Often it is greed,” Miller said.

He referred to the case of the 20 rural constables that the police are seeking to combat the problem of predial larceny.

The Commissioner said that the police still have not filled the 20 posts, which will pay $1,000 per month.

He suggested that there are other opportunities for work but many have chosen the way of fast money.

“I do not support any illegal activity,” he said.