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Prof advocates legalising marijuana
Director of Africana Studies at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Prof Onwubiko Agozino is calling for the legalisation of marijuana. He believes people who use/sell marijuana and may be arrested and sentenced to prison for it cannot be compared with one incarcerated for homicide. He also believes imprisoning someone for a marijuana offence exposes that individual to violent socialisation.
The right to sell marijuana, as in Netherlands or Portugal, he said, should also be decriminalised thereby allowing people to earn a living. Other illicit drugs such as cocaine, he said, should also be decriminalised, but through education, the public should be made alive to the the dangers.
“The war on drugs is a choice our leaders have made. Waging war on drugs is not working; what works is education. Marijuana never killed anybody. We should end the war on drugs, legalise marijuana and allow the young people here in Trinidad and Tobago to grow their little marijuana and make a decent living and pay some taxes,” he said.
Agozino’s comments came as he delivered the keynote address at the opening day of the 14th Biannual International Conference on Penal Abolition (ICOPA). The conference invites the opinions and expertise of activists, academics, journalists, practitioners, people currently or formerly imprisoned, survivors of State and personal harm and others from across the world working toward the abolition of imprisonment, the penal system, and the prison industrial complex.
Held in conjunction with the Institute of Industrial Relations at the University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine Campus, the conference is being hosted at the university’s Learning Resource Centre for participants from Jamaica, the USA, UK and T&T.
President of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Sir Dennis Byron chaired the panel on Criminal to Reparative Law. Agozino also recommends the lifting of the death penalty. He described as ‘shameful’ that the death penalty is being retained in the constitutions of Caribbean countries. He said the death penalty encourages one to kill one’s wife or friend as a form of punishment.
“The people who imposed the death penalty on us, the Europeans, have all abolished it. We did not make the law to kill our own people as punishment. That is a European, modern fetish of control-freak technology. “As part of the decolonisation our people have been waging for centuries we should say enough to the death penalty as punishment. I say to you, people of Trinidad, you are the new Pharaohs of the age if you make it known that you do not want the death penalty any more,” he said.
Criminologists, he said, should advocate for the British to apologise and pay reparation to the Shouter Baptists for the 1917 Ordinance which prohibited Shouter Baptists from their form of worship. Agozino’s address, “Control-Freak Criminology and Penal Abolitionism” called for the discipline to take a peacemaking and lovemaking perspective as espoused by philosopher and criminologist Harold Pepinsky and others.
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