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Legalize It!

Herb Fellow

New Member
Sometime ago Peter Tosh wrote a song entitled 'Legalize It' however it was in relation to the legalization of marijuana. Presumably he was speaking about Jamaica but his thrust could have been for a wider audience.

I had the opportunity to spend two years there and the amount of people professional and otherwise that smoked ganja was unbelievable. Listen I'm not here to pick on the Jamaican people or to seek to add insult to injury I am merely attempting to draw an analogy. Jamaica has refused to legalize marijuana and probably for good reason, but if one were to visit there one would seriously have to wonder if marijuana were not legal. I say that because of how freely it is smoked.

In The Bahamas we have the same problem and I'm not speaking about marijuana usage, although we too have developed this nonchalant attitude towards rolling up a joint and taking a hit, but that is a story for another day.

What I speak about is our illegal gaming houses. The reason that I choose to speak about it today should be quite obvious to all. Of course it stems from the remarks by the Prime Minister in the House on Thursday past.

The comments by themselves appeared to be innocuous however I do believe it was a planned attempt to judge the tide of opinion. I can remember when similar comments were made by Kenyatta Gibson during the last administration and it solicited the same responses.

The Prime Minister stated 'Now Mr. Speaker this society on a Sunday morning, you go to the gaming houses, to Flowers and those places, and it is like a bank on a payday – government payday. They are set up like a bank, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of places. Well either we believe that it is illegal, or we believe that it should be legal. I told the Commissioner of Police last week, that it seems to me that we are unable to enforce the law, and that I was going to give consideration to legalizing the number business. Of course he didn't support me in that thinking but the reality is that it is not an enforceable law...'

As I would have noted then and I take the time to do so again even with the passage of legislation to make gambling legal what are we going to do about all the illegal operations that presently exist. I say this because if we are truly going to reap the benefits of a gaming system we will then need to institute a centralized control center operated by a single entity.

Let's face it, the gentlemen that own and operate these establishments are not just going to disappear into that good night, because the government decides it wants in. This is a lucrative venture and a man just does not give up money that easily. There are also many others that benefit from this activity. Additionally how many of the same pastors that preach about the wrongs of gambling are themselves major indulgers in it or graciously accept the bounty handed over to them by these gentlemen?

The Christian Council has said that it is opposed to the legalization of gambling. Bishop Humes was quick to issue a statement and I guess I can understand why. But what I find incredulous is that as long as we make no attempt to bring order to a situation we all appear to be happy with allowing it to continue by turning a blind eye.

Bahamians love to gamble and some to their own detriment, the legalizing of this habit will not lead to an exponential rise in the number of gamblers but I'm sure that there will be some form of rise. But it will allow government to provide specific funding to programs that can have a drastic effect on our youth such as community centers, sports and education.

So what is it that really frightens the Christian Council? Is it that they feel as though there will be less money in the collection plates or are they really concerned with the degradation of our society? Sometimes I honestly have to wonder.

This is why the Prime Minister can't afford to take the temperature of the population. He must make a decision and act. If it be that the same is to remain illegal then he must cause all the weight of the Police Force to come down on these individuals along with the ensuing prosecutions until it is driven from our land.

If he decides otherwise then he must cause the infrastructure to be put in place that will avoid the inevitable attempts at tampering and manipulation by ingenious persons, by allowing the same to be controlled on behalf of the State by an independent company that is subject to public audits and oversight.

The problem with both of these is that whatever option is chosen a significant part of the political base would be affected whether adversely or not. It is well known that the numbers men have funded political parties for a long time. Equally the political parties count on the churches to garner the base of their support.

Accordingly with out hurting anyone we have had a secret pact for all these years that allows the numbers men to ply their trade and the Christian Council to save face.

It is this very same compromise that is part of the root problem that we have in our society today. On the one hand we want the youth and miscreants to obey the rule of law and on the other we can't seem to do without the euphoric pleasure it brings.

This is another issue for us to call and examine ourselves. We live in an ever changing world and there are many things that happen which we don't like and we ourselves won't indulge in.

In deference to the Christian principles of our nation we have deemed many of these activities to be immoral and or illegal. Yet with an ever increasing frequency clubs or spots are popping up to tend to the desires of a large segment of the population that desire the same.

So if it isn't smoking marijuana, gambling or the plying of the sex trade in some form we will find a way. I just hope that as a nation we can find a way to peaceably co-exist because the illicit pleasures are generating far too much money for those concerned and as a result they prefer to risk getting caught than to give it up.

Source: The Nassau Guardian
Copyright: 2008, The Nassau Guardian
Contact: Craig Butler, For The Guardian, cfmilobutler@hotmail.com
Website: The Nassau Guardian - www.thenassauguardian.com
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