Friday, April 12, 2024

Marijuana research only way forward


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The call to legalise marijuana has been raised once again in this country.

This time a case has been put by Calvin Chase, also known as Bongo Lights, who took his “protest” to The City on Tuesday. His plea is for the law to be changed so Rastafari could stop being harassed.

Bongo Lights was joined by two others on the march through Broad Street with placards in hand saying that it had been proven that marijuana had helped in treating a variety of illnesses and was far less dangerous than alcohol.

This is not the first time the legalisation issue has been raised, nor is it the first time that the benefits of the drug have been used as a reason put forward by proponents.

 Barbados has not been immune from the debate over this controversial issue, especially after a number of states in the United States of America legalised the drug.

In recent times, the debate has became even more contentious.

Government ministers as well as other regional leaders, while keeping their eyes and ears on the international pulse of the debate, have been very careful when commenting on this issue when pushed for a response by journalists.

Some opponents of legalisation are worried about regulation, while others say nay, based on health reasons. Those who are for the change base their beliefs mainly on the medicinal value of marijuana.

There is value in both arguments – those for and against. However, this is not an issue to be taken lightly by policymakers.

It was Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite who wisely sounded off on the debate earlier this year, stating that Barbados would not be moving in the direction of decriminalising marijuana until officials had done all the research and weighed all the pros and cons.

He also clearly stated that Barbados would not decriminalise because it was fashionable or because its neighbours had decided it was the way to go.

The Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, has said the region’s drug laws are “destroying young people” unnecessarily. In fact, he is quoted as saying that the time had come for the Caribbean to look squarely at the issues of medical marijuana use.

Legalisation of marijuana is not a decision to be taken lightly by our policymakers and therefore, the sound counsel of Barbados’ Attorney General is welcome.

We are not convinced that a change in policy is necessary at this time and believe strongly that any attempt to change the status quo as it relates to marijuana will do more harm than good.

We also caution that any consideration of legalisation should not be without the sound and in-depth research that would help to determine the way forward.

Let us take the high road on this issue.


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