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Did Blazer have a spliff?

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by WAYNE D. MURRAY MD Fri June 7, 2013

I read the article published by Cecil “Blazer” Williams in his column in the News on May 31, 2013, and was amazed that a learned individual who is a leader in our society in his own right, would be so misleading in his deliberation on the “legalization and/or de-criminalization” of marijuana.{{more}} In his mind this is an issue simply of politics that the two major political parties here would use as a method for gaining or losing votes and it is simply that at stake. The medical and psycho-social effects were not entertained. I must confess that his views are his own and that he is entitled, but seeing that many would read and be guided by his own views, he must have a greater responsibility in how he puts forward his beliefs.

The meat of the matter in his article is that there are four basic principles that should drive the legalization or de-criminalization of marijuana. These being: the economic gain, the cessation of our youths being hunted in the hills, the fact that some US states have done so and research in terms of medical marijuana. Absolutely no mention was made with reference to the negative effect that marijuana’s recreational use has on the individual and by extension the society.

Many would assume that seeing that there is a profitable “illegal” trade in marijuana, it means that by extension, there are great possibilities to having a structured legal industry which will automatically mean increased employment and taxes from the trade. The latter is far from the truth, as it is obvious that with legalization here in St Vincent and the Grenadines and few other countries, that will not automatically mean an increase in target consumers. The view that we have “better” marijuana might only be a myth and truly a “better” marijuana, I assume means one with a higher potency to promote delirium and hallucination (we produce stronger rums, but have less than one per cent of the rum market, which is controlled by lighter rums). Countries with larger land masses like Jamaica and Central America, for example, could out-produce and out-price us in the blink of an eye (remember our banana industry).

The concept that a few US states have led the way is no comfort to me, as within a year that can be reversed and possibly will be. There is no problem in following the lead of others, but it is also good sense to learn from them and the best way to do so is to allow time. One of the strong reasons given for legalization and de-criminalization is that the cost of policing is expensive. That might be true, but I can hardly see the expense and energies exerted on marijuana control being less, when compared to the possible expense of dealing with the medical complications and other psychological, neurological and cognitive liabilities associated with marijuana recreational use.

There is a misconception that since marijuana is “illegal”, that there can be no medical research with reference to the plant. That is a simply a convenient lie. ALL possibilities of controlled research are available. The obvious problem arises when many try to use the “medical marijuana” loop-hole to gain marijuana for their recreational “spliff”. Research is done on marijuana in Jamaica, where a glaucoma drug was developed and is in trial. Like any other possibilities, drug development must be accompanied by a convincing proposal, along with reasonable realities. Many think that drug research is simply growing marijuana and handing them out to people who want to smoke to see if their “ailment” disappears. The truth is far from the latter and goes far beyond finding an active ingredient, but rather involves controlled trials with set parameters and ethical practice. There is no reason to believe that marijuana has more medicinal property than aloes or soursop bush, until proper research and trials are done.

Marijuana use is known to cause hallucination, which can be as a short-term high or indeed long-term. When used, even for the first time, many have had “out of the world” sensations for months, not knowing their very self or closest loved ones. When these persons are tested for other drugs in their system, only marijuana is noted. Young people who use marijuana find it difficult to keep up with their peers in school, as many drop out and even find it difficult to carry out tasks requiring multiple functions. This is noted even on construction sites, where many gravitate as labourers. When given a task to cut multiple lengths of material, invariably this task becomes complicated. These individuals are typically termed lazy, as they spend significant time sleeping, move very slowly and find it difficult to complete tasks when compared to the expectations.

The cost to the society, when measured from the point of view of mental health alone, surpasses the present cost expended in policing. We live in a society where it does not take a double blind study to realize the negative effect of marijuana on the brain’s development and cognitive expression. The young and thus the future of our very existence are at risk if marijuana is de-criminalized. The effect of this drug is before our very eyes and anyone who denies that is a hypocrite.

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