[…] Hashish is a mysterious plant,
fantastic poetry from the earth:
It knows the shades of a beautiful night
and it sings and paints all it holds within[…]
-An excerpt from “Hashish,” by Jose Marti, Mexico, June 1, 1875.
I came upon a small white and crumpled up piece of paper. In its heading read the message: “Legalize What’s Homegrown.” The flyer was advocating the legalization of marijuana.
The handout used the poem written by Jose’s Marti in 1875 in which he mentioned his use of hashish (pressed pollen from the cannabis flower).
From the time we were small children, Jose Marti’s verses are written in our classrooms and in books, transmitting to us especially those ideas that are humanist and anti-imperialist.
So the fact that our national hero smoked hashish is a good tool for those who hope to see the legalization of marijuana in our country.
The flyer was distributed by a rastafari, painted completely white, out at Jibacoa Beach during the 12th Rotilla Festival of Electronic Music held last month.
This festival is attended by thousands of youths for whom the issue of drugs is obvious.
It would be naive to act as if young Cubans are not immersed in the world of drugs, even though Cuba is not exactly a capitalist country.
Substances such as ketamines, amphetamines, “paco” (or parquisonil) and marijuana are sought out and consumed by a considerable number of youth here, especially in Havana.
There are those who are called jibaros, the traffickers of these substances who stalk our parks, where every weekend significant numbers of young people gather.
Drugs have become a form of amusement.
I asked this of some people who often consume these substances. They find that these make them feel a sense of freedom and make them forget problems that might come to mind otherwise while at the cinema or eating ice cream.
Drugs are a path to escape from a reality that does not please them. It’s a way out of everyday conflicts with parents, grandparents or others with whom they’re forced to live. This need for escape is especially urgent when they don’t have enough money in their pockets for other forms of recreation.
In my opinion, the use of drugs is related to both the age of the consumers (adolescence) and the absence of places to which youth can get out and about, since clubs, discos and shows are now too expensive.
Their only option left is to sit out in a park and smoke or take whatever’s available, while being ever fearful that the police will come and nab them.
It seems that no one realizes that the only way to decrease the level of consumption is to create opportunities for young people in a variety of recreational settings; and this could begin, for example, by making the existing ones affordable.
Photo: On the left was a flyer for the legalization of marijuana, and on the right were youths in 23rd and G Park.