THE EDITOR, Sir:
I don't want to be singled out as the naysayer in this euphoria that is surrounding the decriminalisation of marijuana. It would, however, be remiss of me if I did not sound caution and indicate that the very same ingredients that make it positively potent will be progressively problematic if abused.
This is not a view that the plant should not be used and researched and made to benefit Jamaica and Jamaicans; it is a call for care and public education in the use and abuse of this product.
This drug is highly addictive. It creates an inordinate desire for the drug on the user. This has health problems, as the most common method of use is smoking. Smoking causes respiratory problems, especially if commenced at a young age.
The sale tactic being used for the push is to say it's a miracle drug. It may well be, but even those have negative side effects. I have seen in my professional practice 'A' students who become high-school dropouts because of the effect of
marijuana on cognitive and social development.
I am not asking for a change in the decriminalisation drive. I am making a plea for caution and consideration to be introduced to the mix in copious doses.
The benefits of the plant must be explored. In fact, it would be ludicrous not to exploit the benefits to be derived from this product. Similarly, it would be foolhardy to bury our heads in the sand of marijuana madness and pretend that there are no negative effects that accompany this move.
With rights come responsibility. I am asking that Parliament, which decided to decriminalise the product, be commended and that we also have the opportunity to praise them in the future for ensuring that, as part of the licensing protocol, a significant sum of the fees collected from producers be used to ensure public education, especially targeted at young males who are most likely to be the abusing cohort.
I sincerely wish that I will be able to give a 'high grade' to this process and the persons involved when the benefits are compared to the fallout. Be warned.
Old Harbour, St Catherine