Churches Concerned About Government's Approach To Medical Weed

A RESPONSE BY MATTHEW THOMAS.  22/02/2018

I read with much pleasure and enthusiasm a joint release from the Christian Council of Churches, the Seventh Day Adventists, the Spiritual Baptist and the Evangelical Churches.

I support in total the sentiments expressed and highlight the following four excerpts from the release:

  1. “Our primary concern relates to the social impact and the related costs to our national wellbeing and development. We are mindful of the view that we are not managing alcohol and its impact on our youth. How much more can we manage possible increased access to marijuana?”
  2. “However, as good and beneficial as medicinal marijuana may appear to be, we believe of themselves, they do not constitute sufficient argument for the legalization of marijuana in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”
  3. “The impact of marijuana on our youth, heavily contributing to antisocial behaviours and mental illness.”
  4. “We cannot ignore the fact that many persons in St. Vincent and the Grenadines that have turned to hard drugs had their first narcotic encounter with marijuana.”

As a practicing pharmacist of forty one years experience, a classroom teacher for fourteen years both at the primary and post primary level, a social commentator and political activist for over thirty years, it is my opinion that the worst thing to have happened to the Caribbean black man, since the scars of slavery, is the inculcation of the marijuana culture. As we are all aware over the past fifty years the crime rate in every CARICOM country without exemption has risen. For the first sixty days in the year, Jamaica has recorded 204 murders. We know too well that the production, trafficking/trading and consumption of marijuana is synonymous to gun related crimes.

                                  MARIJUANA CULTURE HAS NO BUNDARIES

An excerpt from the Jamaica Gleaner of Friday, January, 5, 2007 under the heading: KILLED OVER GANJA – FEUDING SONS OF HIGH – SOCIETY OFFICIALS: wrote: “An argument over ganja has left the son of Supreme Court Judge Lenox Campbell dead and the son of Principal of the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus, facing a charge for murder. Rodney Beckles, 21, is now in police custody after stabbing to death Kahalil Campbell 28 of Daisy Ave, St. Andrew.”

The CARICOM Marijuana Commission on its web site: caricom.org/marijuana-commission in a publication on 27/03/2017, under the heading; GANJA BABIES: wrote:

 “More and more children, reportedly seeking assistance at the public medical facilities for ganja related illness in Jamaica since the weed was decriminalized in 2015; is causing worry for local health officials.

“With 70% of the population having easy access to ganja and the law making possession of up to two ounces no longer a criminal offence, children – smoke; as young as 12 years old have been trying the weed in its many different forms.

“Health Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton, last week told the Sunday Gleaner that he was very unhappy with the findings. ‘The drug treatment programme at the Ministry primarily for persons affected by marijuana usage and in particular since the decriminalization of two ounces or less, has shown a 50% increase in persons – young people, school children, adolescents – which raises a lot of concern for us.’”

                                    WE DO NOT HAVE TO REINVENT THE WHEEL

We do not have to reinvent the wheel. Other people’s experiences could be as good as ours. The pharmacognosy, chemistry and pharmacology of marijuana have been known for years. Incidentally, our own Vincentian born Doctor, Dr. Albert Lockhart is a pioneer among others in Jamaica in producing canasol, an eye drop for glaucoma and asmasol for asthmatics both from ganja. T GEEDES GRANT was the agent for canasol in St. Vincent. It was legally prescribed and sold in pharmacies here in St. Vincent since the eighties. It is not known that Dr. Lockhart is a billionaire.

Try as you may, it’s unlikely that marijuana will ever come close to, far less to replace morphine and its analogues as an analgesic, cough suppressant and anti-diarrheal. They are used legitimately the world over in the practice of medicine. The poppy plant from which morphine is produced is grown predominantly in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.  In spite of all that wealth that is generated annually from poppy, the areas in which it is predominantly grown are among the poorest and most deprived and or depraved communities in the world.

I applaud the CHURCHES for their level of forthrightness and their guidance on the subject. When one listens to the level of debate that comes from both major political parties, the ULP and the NDP, it is obviously no wonder that St. Vincent and the Grenadines has found itself in its present state of quagmire. Discipline can no longer be taught. Alcohol, tobacco and ganja are not a must. To the average Vincentian, ganja means; it’s psychoactive effects. As the Christians would say, “Jesus has rolled my burdens in the sea”. Our political leaders are saying to our youth: Don’t worry; take a splif, sit on the block “badden your head” and your burdens will surely be rolled away. Unfortunately though, their burdens are invariably rolled into the jail, mental hospital or the cemetery.