The finals for the secondary school debating competitions were held on May 7 at the Briercliffe Cultural Center and the Elmore Stoutt High School won the competition by opposing the moot and stating that the decriminalization of marijuana will do more harm than good for the Territory. However, a more heated debate was among the audience of the competition who also presented points for and against decriminalization. Chief of the argument was those made by Taryll ‘Zulu I’ D’Souza, a member of the Rastafari Progressive Unity who complained that the Rastafarians are not given a chance to explain their position on the subject.
D’Souza told the gathering, which included legislators and senior public servants: “When you decriminalize it (marijuana) you get to learn about it, when it’s illegal you hear how it fries your brains, it does this and it does that and none of it has any backings… I am a Rasta man and you know what, we use it as spiritual meditation in connection with our inner man. That is what we use it for and this whole thing been against us from the start because…or are we going to act like the Rasta don’t exist?”
In his argument he went on to ask why marijuana was illegal in the first place and substances such as tobacco and alcohol were legal: “Why is ganja illegal? How man get this ability to give you tobacco with the warning on the back, I will give you cancer, tuberculosis take all your money and then you are going to die. Alcohol I will let you drink, drink and mash up your lever, your mind…and these things are given to us commercially left right and center, poisoning us, and now we stand up here like anti Christ, because if you are fighting against nature that is exactly what it is…it’s not only smoking, everybody harping on smoking, what about tea, the seed for protein, …for glaucoma…everybody just watching smoking because the Rasta man smokes but nobody ain’t interviewing the Rasta man, the Rasta man is the representative for the tree….I have learned about it, dealt with it. ..as long as you keep it illegal people are going to abuse it because people…they have different kind of it.. it’s the healing of the nation…”
A female resident announced that she was understanding D’Souza’s views and stated that she believes that it all about self control and that people should have the option of using the substance, but should know their limits.
Another male resident said he was totally against the decriminalizing of marijuana: “I am against it totally. Who can control marijuana when marijuana controls you. Most people don’t take it for medical purposes… just take a look at the block where the young people are dropping out of school. I was smoking marijuana, I thank God for delivering me from that otherwise I would have been a thief, or be dead. Check most of the guys on the streets they are fearful always with a gun… they don’t look for work they sit around.”
However, the male artiste’s comments were rebutted by D’Souza who announced: “The people you see on the corner smoking marijuana, they have a problem, you see them using marijuana; you say it is marijuana doing them that; but it is a different problem. Things ain’t all rosy out here. Some people are naturally lazy, and they find something to do while them lazy. A lot of people burning marijuana going to work, singing happy…and these are the people you go to for answers in high places. Don’t blame marijuana for lack of ambition and will power, because marijuana and gun do not go together.”