As this country seeks to build out a medicinal cannabis sector, a law enforcement expert is urging the authorities to be on the lookout for the criminal element that is likely to try to profit from the industry.
The advice is coming from President and Chief Executive Officer of the United States- based Caribbean Law Enforcement Foundation (CLEF), David Watson.
He explained in a recent interview with The Barbados Advocate that while the country has legalised marijuana for medicinal purposes, other uses of marijuana remain illegal, and he said persons may want to circumvent that through the medicinal cannabis industry. Therefore, he warned, the authorities have to be on high alert.
His comments came as he said the manufacturing of counterfeit cannabis products is big business across the world, with unlicensed operators making and selling cannabis products illegally, causing cultivators and manufacturers major headaches, while lining the pockets of those who are engaging in the illegal activity.
Watson, who is Barbadian born, pointed out that these fake items could cause more harm than good, and therefore persons purchasing products should ensure their authenticity before using them.
“This is a whole other animal in terms of criminality that will be coming at you with this industry, but I’m not trying to scare people. I’m talking about international crime, local crime, and the cannabis itself with people trying to counterfeit products. There’s so much stuff that’s going to come their way and the police department in Barbados needs to prepare for that,” he said.
Noting that the medicinal cannabis industry is new to Barbados, Watson as he said that the CLEF will be doing all it can to help train police officers here about what to look for, how to interdict it, as well as how to notice the start of any criminality in that field.
Meanwhile, he said that from a security standpoint those entering the industry have to be ever mindful of the need to safeguard their investment. With that in mind, he urged anyone looking to invest in medicinal cannabis to first get a security survey of the location from which they intend to operate from a trained security practitioner.
“Anyone can put up a fence and some lights, but every location is different. So a practitioner who is versed in doing security surveys would be better placed to do your survey. They would know about fencing, lighting, egress – how to get persons out of the building safely – and what kind of locks are best to use in that industry, whether they be biometric or card scanners for example,” the former New York Police Department detective said.
He went on to say that in order for the stakeholders in the sector to reduce criminality, the security companies and the investors must work in collaboration with the Royal Barbados Police Force. This, he said, would allow for the sharing of information regarding trends being seen within the industry and how to combat them.
Speaking to the matter of praedial larceny and also the theft of products from the plants, he said that in addition to the installation of cameras, lighting and fencing, dogs and drones can both be useful in warding off perpetrators. In respect of the former, Watson said they could be trained for apprehension or deterrence. On the topic of drones, he said they can be autonomous or pilot operated, and if permitted for use, can survey a field or the perimeter of a building in a fraction of the time of human personnel.
“It is a good additional security measure, especially if you are a farmer with one acre and cannot afford to employ a security officer. Also, in terms of the bigger operations, you can actually do drone mapping of your plants and when in flight they can spot if you have missing plants, or be able to let you know that one of the plants is dying or is dead,” he said.
Watson’s comments came as he made it clear that in terms of security, there is not a one size fits all. As such, he is urging people to get expert advice to secure their investment. (JRT)