“EDITOR’S NOTEBOOK: Medical marijuana forcing a rethink”

bloc-eric-editors-notebook

Those senior officers in the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Agriculture and the criminal justice system are going to have to rethink how we deal with marijuana.

This is evident based on the decision by the Ministry of Health to allow the use of medical marijuana.

There is no way we can talk about, approve and introduce medical marijuana while ignoring or continuing to criminalise what happens with ganja for recreational purposes in the rest of the society.

The reality is that marijuana is used widely and openly across Barbados, by both men and women, young people and some elderly ones, and by people from all socioeconomic backgrounds.

We clearly cannot continue to carry our young people before the law courts for possession and use of a few ounces of marijuana, jail some, send some to the Psychiatric Hospital and put a stain on the record of too many.

Yes, we are going to have to change our mindset on ganja.

Clearly, the concerns of the medical fraternity cannot be ignored, or overlooked. Neither should the findings of the CARICOM Commission on Marijuana, which has recommended the declassification of marijuana as a dangerous drug.

Barbados cannot do otherwise than to decriminalise the use of marijuana with certain clearly stated guidelines. There must be an obvious difference between possession of a small quantity for personal use as opposed to trafficking for profit.

Marijuana is already a thriving cash crop for several enterprising people who have made effective use of either abandoned lands, such as the

CLICO estates in St John or some of the bushy hillsides and unoccupied lands in St George, St Joseph, and St Andrew.

The question is whether these farmers will be allowed to become legitimate and grow the weed needed for medical marijuana.

There is also the issue relating to the intellectual property rights surrounding the strain of marijuana being grown.

Clearly, there will be jobs developing along this herb trail. (ES)