Marijuana Denied

I recently attended a conference on medical marijuana, in order to become more informed on the current state of knowledge.  For the past 3 decades, I have found discussing marijuana use to be an emotional subject for some, which rarely ends well if there is disagreement.  Nevertheless, into the octagon I go.

The Bible teaches that God made all living things, and declared them to be good.  The herb has a purpose, regardless of whether we understand that purpose or not.  The Bible teaches that certain plants were created to be our food.  The supporting Biblical passage follows.

“And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.”” (Genesis 1:29)

Research of the marijuana plant has found many health benefits.  Therefore, why is it illegal to have this useful plant?  The simple answer is that good things can be misused.

Our youth need parental guidance, especially during their teenage years when they are going through puberty.  One of the side-effects of puberty is that our teenagers tend not to appreciate the consequences of their actions.

As teenagers get used to their new feelings, they seek excitement.  During this critical stage of their development, it is the responsibility of adults to: guide our youth towards responsible exciting behaviours, restrain them from irresponsible exciting behaviours, and help them avoid harm from responsible but risky exciting behaviours.

The promise of excitement from sex, drugs, and alcohol has proven too much for many youth.  In our attempts to protect them, we have specified a legal age before which our youth cannot consent to sex, or purchase alcoholic beverages or addictive drugs.

Teenagers have gotten around our legal restrictions on drugs and alcohol, by getting irresponsible adults to obtain them.  Where teenagers cannot find an adult to lead them astray, they have misused other products, like the dangerous practise of inhaling fumes of paints, glues and cleaning products.

The hope of all responsible adults is that teenagers will also grow into responsible adults, who will properly guide the next generation of vulnerable teenagers.  Most teenagers make it through puberty, either scathed or unscathed, and become responsible adults.  However, not all transition at the same time.

Adults who become addicted to harmful behaviours, delay their responsibility to positively guide the next generation.  If they delay until they are elderly, then they may be less effective.

There are no legal restrictions on the sale or use of paints, glues or cleaners.  This is because teenagers that used to inhale the fumes of these products, quickly stopped that lunacy when they became adults.  All adults will likely discourage teenagers from that dangerous practise.  The same cannot be said for marijuana.

At the marijuana conference, the doctors generally agreed that smoking marijuana was not recommended.  Unfortunately, many adults have encouraged vulnerable teenagers to follow them in burning the marijuana plant, and then inhaling its smoke.  It is only because of such irresponsible actions by adults, that the benefits of the marijuana plant are not legally available to us.

In their attempts to protect their youth, the US has made possession of the marijuana plant a federal crime.  They are so desperate to protect their youth, that they have threatened to damage the trading capacity of countries that do not also treat it as an illegal substance.  Since we rely on international trade, we have no choice but to follow the US in making it illegal.

We cannot ignore the threat to Barbados’ economy, so we must respect the US’ position.  However, we should not make criminals out of people who use or misuse the plant.  Therefore, Solutions Barbados policy is to treat it as a traffic violation, like speeding, and fine those in the chain of possession.

Growers would be fined based on the value of the herbs they cultivated, distributors would be fined based on the value that they distributed, and consumers would be fined based on the value that they had in their possession.  Therefore, each person in the chain of possession can calculate their likely fines, and decide whether participating in the marijuana trade is worth the risk.

Admittedly, Solutions Barbados’ policy could be misinterpreted as a clever attempt to legalise and tax marijuana through fines, for the purpose of tricking the USA to avoid the threat to Barbados’ economy.  Since any fine under 100% can be reasonably considered a tax, Solutions Barbados proposed a fine of 10 times the street value of the offence to completely remove the idea of a tax from consideration.

[Author’s note: We seem to have been banned from the traditional media in Barbados, so Social Media is all that we currently have. If you like the article and are willing, then we would appreciate it if you would share it.]

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and President of Solutions Barbados.  He can be reached at

The Baton of Stupidity

Last week, young Kyriq Boyce stepped onto a reinforced concrete well cover, as others had probably done many times before.  But this time, the well cover collapsed, and he fell approximately 30 m (100 ft) to the bottom.  Within hours, he would step into eternity.

Like most well covers across Barbados, it was unsafe.  However, since persons have walked and played on them for many years, they reasonably assume that they are safe.  They are not.  Just before a slab collapses, there may be no visible cracks on the top surface, but the edges and/or the hidden underside, may be cracked with exposed and corroding reinforcement.

There are two important components of structural design.  The first is to design the structure to be strong enough to accommodate all the loads that are expected to impact it.  A well cover is expected to be intentionally walked and jumped on.  If it bounds a carpark or driveway, then it may be accidentally driven on.  If it was not designed to accommodate a truck, then while it may not collapse if driven on, it may be significantly weakened.

The second important component of structural design is durability.  A high-durable structure should maintain its strength with minimal maintenance.  A low-durable structure needs excessive maintenance to maintain its strength.

Well covers should be highly durable, requiring minimal maintenance.  This can be achieved by ensuring that: the slab thickness is not less than 125 mm (5”); the side and bottom protective concrete cover to the steel reinforcement should be 40 mm (1.5”); and the concrete should be properly vibrated, and cured.

Well covers are normally approximately 100 mm (4”) thick.  The additional 25 mm (1”) thickness of concrete to improve the durability, costs approximately $30.  The benefits of spending an additional $30 on each well are obvious.

The well cover that Kyriq fell through could easily have taken his weight in the past.  However, it was not strong enough when he made that fateful last step.  While yesterday’s strength may be relied on tomorrow for high-durable structures, the promise of yesterday’s strength should not be relied on for low-durability structures.

All parents should use Kyriq’s tragic loss of life to warn their children to never walk on well covers.  However, the great construction safety risk for Barbados is not its vulnerable well covers, but its vulnerable houses.


We should be reminded that during the Haiti earthquake in 2010, a reported 300,000 persons were entombed in masonry structures, that were built almost as badly as we have built in Barbados for the past 25 years.  Like in Haiti, almost every house constructed in Barbados after 1995 lacks the life-saving shear walls, that costs all of $0.00 to install during construction.

Like the reported 300,000 unfortunate Haitians before 2010, most of us are unaware that we are living in tombs.  We have awoken so many mornings, with the walls still standing, that we have become oblivious to the fatal risks.  Worse is that we have convinced ourselves that this level of unacceptably high risk is normal and unchangeable, which demonstrates our lack of care for the safety of the other members of our households.

Barbados’ vulnerable housing stock is a national disgrace.  It is intentionally sustained because, to my knowledge, Barbados has chosen to be the only country on this planet, that offers its residents no relevant building guidance for the construction of houses.

I severely criticised the last DLP administration for this lunatic situation.  Their shameless response was to ignore all warnings, and then offer this baton of stupidity to the BLP.  Rather than reject it, the BLP administration is carrying this baton with the same expertise as the last administration.  It is time to throw away the stupid baton and start caring about households, rather than pursue the dangerous policy of waiting for the foreseen tragic event, and then begging for international aid.

[Author’s note: We seem to have been banned from the traditional media in Barbados, so Social Media is all that we currently have. If you like the article and are willing, then we would appreciate it if you would share it.]

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and President of Solutions Barbados.  He can be reached at

Cry For Haiti Again

After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, I volunteered for over 12 deployments where I interacted with persons at almost all levels of responsibility.  Therefore, any opinion I have on Haiti is an informed one.

When our Prime Minister announced that Barbados would remove our visa requirement for Haitians, I was surprised at the daring offer.  But I had assumed that our Prime Minister’s advisors were far more informed than I, so I kept silent.  Now that Barbados has restored the visa requirement, it is important that this type of error never happen again.

Haiti is a politically unstable country of over 11 million people.  Many of them live in poverty, fear of violence, and hopelessness.  Visa requirements prevent most Haitians from travelling by air.  Therefore, many risk illegal travel by sea, an have drowned in their desperate search for a better life.

Almost 20% of Haitians live in: the United States, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Canada, Brazil, Chile, Bahamas, France, and Jamaica.  Many in Haiti depend on funds sent to them from their family and friends who successfully made it out.

Barbados gave Haiti the most generous visa requirement of all countries on this planet.  The next generous visa requirements were offered by: Israel, Rwanda, Benin, Gambia, and South Korea.  These countries are all outside of the Caribbean region, and outside of the Western Hemisphere.  Therefore, Barbados’ offer was the most attractive, safest, and the most realistic legal hope for desperate Haitians.

I was in Haiti after the Prime Minister’s announcement, and can confirm that Barbados’ invitation to Haitians, who were desperate for any glimmer of hope, was excitedly known.  We have now crushed that hope with the sorry excuse that too many Haitians were coming.  What else did we expect a desperate people to do?  Who advised our Prime Minister to remove the visa requirement in the first place?

Why would Barbados, with a land area that is 1.5% of Haiti’s, and a population that is 2.5% of Haiti’s, and an economy that is smaller than Haiti’s, and a debt-to-GDP profile that is worse than Haiti’s, invite Haitians to Barbados without a visa restriction?

Why would Barbados, that: has defaulted on its foreign debt, has a major unemployment problem, has long wait-times for limited public services, and is in a severe IMF austerity program, invite Haiti’s desperate millions to unnecessarily expense themselves with their precious limited funds, to travel to Barbados in search of work that even Barbadians cannot find?  It seems a most cruel joke of false hope, to play on a people who least deserve it.  So why did we do it?

We are accustomed to our politicians making impossible promises to get elected.  We are accustomed to our Members of Parliament practising their ‘Public Relations Economics’ of giving and taking away.  If they promise to reduce taxes in one part of our lives, then they will certainly increase taxes in another part, so that we always pay more.  But Haitians were not accustomed to this type of broken promise from us.

When the Government of Barbados attends regional or international meetings, our politicians do not represent their political parties or their base supporters – they represent all of us.  Therefore, any promises made at these meetings should not be like their campaign promises that they dismissively break at will.  Instead, these promises should be properly thought out.

It is almost impossible to develop well thought out policies if dissenting opinions are not considered.  For this reason, Solutions Barbados’ policy was that each Minister must have an advisory committee, not of loyal party supporters, but of experts in their fields.  This committee would carefully consider public opinions.  Had our Prime Minister been advised by such a committee, then it is unlikely that she would have made such a reckless promise to our Haitian brothers and sisters.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and President of Solutions Barbados.  He can be reached at

Crime Pays the Bills

We have reached a state in Barbados where crime pays the bills of many households.  Politicians who participated in the last general election know this.  While canvassing in certain areas, it was common to hear the same excuse that there were no other options available.

Since then, things have only gotten worse for most.  Many claim that: no-one in their house is working, they have received disconnection notices for light and water utilities, they cannot afford to pay all of the rent, and the Welfare department is unresponsive.

It is reasonable for the public to expect the political party in power to provide solutions to national problems.  However, regardless of the severity of the problems facing Barbadians, the political response is generally the same.  Namely, that it took 10 years of mismanagement to get us here, and it will take time to fix the DLP’s mess.

That political excuse is now constantly repeated by most radio moderators, and newspaper editorialists and columnists.  But it does not solve any of our problems.  We have been asked what we would have done to solve the crime situation.  This article addresses that question.

The police commissioner recently reported that most crime was of a socio-economic nature.  Solutions Barbados’ crime policies were designed to remove the socio-economic ‘no-options’ excuse.  The BLP administration is encouraged to consider them for the benefit of us all, but they should be reminded that they are designed to be implemented together, not separately.  So what would we have done about crime had Solutions Barbados formed the Government?

We would have managed all public services to become internationally competitive, to ensure a reliable and efficient service at a fraction of the current cost.  We should remember that we currently pay for the cost of an efficient service, plus the additional wastage, inefficiency, and unproductivity costs.  The additional cost to Government would have been $0.00, since several of our candidates had international management experience.

With reliable low-cost public utility services, every household would have received a subsistence amount of water every month, free of cost.  The rates above this amount would have been increased, so that we could help our fellow citizens, who were experiencing temporary financial challenges.  The same method was to have been used for electricity and natural gas.  The additional cost to Government would have been $0.00.

Once households can rely on utilities, they can better prepare for work and school.  With public transportation properly managed, bus fares on public busses would have been reduced.  The excessive maintenance cost would have been significantly reduced by allowing all garages to competitively tender for maintaining Transport Board busses for six months at a time, with parts being provided free of all duties and taxes.  The additional cost to Government would have been $0.00.

From the start of a Solutions Barbados administration, all households would have been trained to start and grow profitable businesses.  The additional cost to Government would have been $0.00, since I have been doing this even before I won the 2014 National Innovation Competition.  The training would have been facilitated on a national level by CBC-TV.

Once a business became viable, then it could qualify for a micro-loan not to exceed $5,000.  The net cost to Government would have been $0.00, since the money was to have been repaid within 2 years.

The secondary school curriculum would have been rearranged, so that the more exciting and easier-to-learn practical aspects of all subjects would have been taught first.  Every student would have left school with at least one marketable skill and a profitable small business.  The additional cost to Government would have been $0.00.

All non-violent offences would have attracted a fine.  Guilty pleas would have attracted a substantially lesser fine.  Those who could not afford to pay their fines would have been provided with work.  Therefore, we could have properly maintained our infrastructure for a fraction of the cost.  The offender would also have learned a marketable skill that they could trade.  The additional cost to Government would have been $0.00.

Violent offenders would have been both fined and incarcerated.  While incarcerated, they would have been trained to start and grow profitable businesses, with the profits being equally shared between inmates, prison staff, and victims of crime.  The additional cost to Government would have been $0.00.

While the additional cost to Government is conservatively stated at $0.00, there is a significant cost saving on most of them, making the comprehensive socio-economic crime policy profitable.  Taken together, these policies that we published four years ago, would have allowed bills to be paid legitimately.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and President of Solutions Barbados.  He can be reached at

The Best Day of Your Life

The displays at the recently held BMEX 2019 shows that Barbadians can create internationally competitive products.  With the health and education investments made in our people, we can easily surpass the achievements of a country like Singapore within a decade, if we choose to.

Many of us choose not to because we do not believe that we can.  We believe that great achievements are for those of another: class, race, colour, gender, or nationality.  It is time to change that, and the first step on that path is to change our perspective on our life-journey.  This awakens us to opportunities easily within our reach.

Your past achievements are not monuments to be adorned and admired, but foundations to build upon.  Regardless of your age, health, past achievements, or current circumstances, the best day of your life is always today; and tomorrow is always going to be a better day for you than today.

Today, you get to correct the mistakes that you made yesterday.  You get to redo things that did not work-out well before.  You get to try something new.  You get to repair relationships, and say what you meant in a kinder way.

Today, you get to be a better: child, sibling, parent, employee, employer, and friend.  You get to be a better you, and correct any deficiencies you are now aware of, because of the criticisms you received yesterday.  You get to learn how to do some things better.  You get to improve your products, attract more customers and make more money.

Every day you will face obstacles.  Today, you get to try another way around or over them.  You do that by identifying opportunities.  If your landlord increases the rent, then remind yourself that you are no longer a slave.  You do not have to stay there – make arrangements to find a more affordable place.  If your employer is giving you grief, then you are no longer a slave – you do not have to work there.  Find another job or start your own business.

If a business is giving you bad service, acknowledge that you do not have to purchase anything from them.  They have no power over you.  Stop wasting your time complaining as if you were a slave with few options, and go and shop elsewhere.  You have options that our slave foreparents never had.  Earn their sacrifice.

The only obstacles that can limit our success, are bad political decisions that result in unnecessary and excessive regulations and taxation.  The aim of these policies is to keep everyone down, so that political leaders can selectively waive the regulations and taxes from their political supporters.  Thus, the Government decides who wins and who loses.  What is appalling is that those who benefit from this corruption, are then promoted by the Government as persons who succeeded by merit.

Excessive taxation is the normal result of the mismanagement of public services.  We entrust the management of our public services to our elected political leaders.  If health, sanitation, water, transportation, and all other public services are well managed, then we will spend less time waiting to use them.  We will also be taxed considerably less to fund efficiently delivered services.

If public services are poorly managed, then we must spend more time waiting to use them.  We must also pay considerably higher taxes, to fund the poorly managed inefficient operations and unproductive employees.

We are not the only country facing the problem of poorly managed public services.  This is a common problem faced by every country on this planet.  In response, the International Organisation Standardization (ISO) developed specific guidance for managing public services and Government operations to an internationally competitive standard.  Unfortunately, despite Barbados being a member of the 161-member ISO, our political leaders have decided that those standards are too good for us.

Instead, we continue to use the same ridiculous management method, that has consistently failed to provide relief to the public and public workers.  That is, to appoint extreme political supporters, who have no management experience whatsoever, to boards where they direct the mismanagement of public services.  The only time that Barbadians can hope to experience well managed public services, is if we travel to countries that have implemented high management standards.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and President of Solutions Barbados.  He can be reached at