The worst possible thing to happen to a ganja farmer occurred to first-time cannabis cultivator Cecil Hamilton Edwards. On Tuesday 14th January his farm which, in addition to sundry root crops and vegetables, also boasted approximately XCD80,000 worth of cannabis was raided by members of the Royal SVG Police Force’s Rapid Response Unit (black squad) reportedly based at Bagdad Edinborough and the harvest ready cannabis was destroyed.
Speaking exclusively with ANNSVG.com Edwards explained that he was first advised by Cannabis Rival Committee’s Junior ‘Spirit’ Cottle to get involved with the new cannabis industry for which local farmers are required to procure a license in order to benefit from inherent opportunities. To this end, Mr. Edwards along with several farmers have grouped together to form the North Leeward Medical Cannabis Growers Cooperative.
Though official reasons are yet to be given for the act by the police, the North Leeward community is rife with speculation that the raid was politically motivated. A move that was meant to victimize and or intimidate the farmer since his son’s place of business was used to host a pro-NDP political meeting at Fitz Hughes on Monday evening, mere hours before the devastating raid.
While Edwards was reluctant to name “the other politician” as the possible agitator behind his farm’s raid he concluded “it’s very suspicious … Because it was just the Monday night and then they raid the Tuesday… Me and nobody have nothing to say well I steal anything so they going to look for it …nothing.”
Member of Parliament for the area and incumbent New Democratic Party candidate Patel Matthews is confident that the raid was instigated because “I had a successful political meeting in Fitz Hughes last [Monday] night…The meeting was held at a private business owned by the son of the owner of the farm where the men were arrested. This is no coincidence.” Matthews shared via his Facebook account.
“Two men have just been arrested for marijuana cultivation in North Leeward. The men were on a farm that has paid up its application fee and is awaiting the license. The farm is also among dozens waiting for The Amnesty to be declared. There are other marijuana farms in the same vicinity and the police saw them but did not touch them,” Matthews’ Facebook report detailed.
The detained employees were subsequently released without charge.
According to Edwards, the officers made off with about 50-70 pounds of cannabis while another 60 pounds were insinuated on the farm and the remaining quantities chopped and trampled in the field.
Without an enforceable law in place, the now disillusioned farmer is left without legal recourse as he attempts to recoup his losses. “I am seeking help because the workers already worked so hard and now have nothing to gain. I am telling you the honest truth is not an easy task to grow marijuana. They say don’t use any [chemicals] so we use workers, sometimes I pay up to $800 per week for workers, I spend $2000 to buy the seed because I was waiting on them for seeds and they ain’t come up with any seeds up to now. It’s over $7000 I done spend since I growing this marijuana and this is the result -nothing. So I would appreciate any help the authorities can give to me because they not going to give me back the weed.”
Disillusioned but not dissuaded, Edwards remains committed to cannabis farming even as he attempts to make sense of his current predicament.
Meanwhile, Cottle, head of the organization that purports to represent local traditional cultivators, has categorically denounced the raid while pointing out “… the eradication from the Cooperative perspective, from the traditional [grower] perspective from the CRC perspective, I condemn it. I condemn the police. But unlike some people who have been giving this a political spin… I work with the MCA (Medical Cannabis Authority) as a liaison officer. I know the MCA would not encourage that kind of eradication… It would be very foolish of the government to encourage that also because this is an election year. So I don’t buy the argument that the government is encouraging that. Bearing in mind it’s an election year and this government is a one-seat majority this would put them at a grave disadvantage. Bearing in mind this constituency is a very marginal one… A government would be very foolish to cause such an uproar.”
By his process of elimination, Cottle sought to vindicate the MCA and wider government of the retardation inflicted on Edwards’s farm. To Cottle’s mind, this raid was conducted by a rogue batch of police who are threatened by the erosion of their powers of arrest. “From the information I received there’s a minority, there’s a clique of police officers who are scared or frightened by this industry eroding their powers to lock up and beat up…” This he said is evidenced by the blatant annoyance of some politicians whom he contacted for immediate assistance in the matter.
Efforts to reach the Minister of Agriculture for further clarity were rebuffed.