Fri | Dec 14, 2018

Cavalier attitude to ganja law troubling

Published:Saturday | July 9, 2016 | 12:00 AM
FILE A man preparing a ganja spliff on the streets of downtown Kingston.


Licensed Professional Counsellor


I am writing as a Jamaican who returned home some time ago to re-establish my heritage and be of service. My deep concern has been around the seemingly cavalier attitude and indulgence of ganja smoking on an openly wide-scale basis in the country. I took the time to drive around the country, live with the poor, and the not so poor. The old, youth and middle-aged are all lighting up morning, noon and night in private and in public places.

I have confronted several persons in public places and I have been met with threats around the issue. Infants and children were in the midst and people allergic to ganja smoke. Let me state very clearly that the problems we are having with the high criminality in Jamaica are directly linked to the wide-scale acceptance of ganja as a way of life.

I am an MS-trained counsellor/psychotherapist and drug counsellor carrying two licences in the United States. I have more than 35 years in the counselling field. I have worked primarily in poor ghettos, with more than 200 families and children.

A mistake was made when ganja was decriminalised without taking into account the unintended consequences that would follow. These include the brazen attitude smokers would exhibit in public. Strong legal measures must be taken to remove smokers from eateries, supermarkets, parks, etc, since those of us who do not smoke are affected by second-hand smoke.

Tourists should not be allowed to come to Jamaica and smoke in our public places and 'dutty up' our people.

Our public festivals are rife with ganja, especially where 'Rastafarians' are gathered. I have witnessed schoolchildren in recitals surrounded by numerous adults smoking around them.


Learning challenges


I recently heard persons from the Ministry of Justice and the Attorney General's Department speak on various aspects of ganja, including getting it reduced to a non-threatening drug by the United Nations. Just one smoking parent is enough to damage the child. The brain development of the foetus becomes highly compromised, resulting in learning challenges because myelin sheaths are destroyed. Justice, health, enforcement officials need to be cross-trained about the severe mental deficits of the ganja addict.

The police should be randomly drug-screened because much of the corruption is directly correlated to deficits in positive frontal brain capacity, including not being able to see that it is immoral/wrong to steal from your fellow man.

Rehab and detox should be provided for parents who smoke prior to their becoming pregnant, with an education campaign focused on how parents will give birth to children with mental disabilities if they continue to smoke.

Parents who smoke ganja in the home should be prosecuted for child endangerment/abuse since the child is being forced to inhale second-hand smoke and is being mentally destroyed by said smoke.

If a child/teen is addicted, the parent must be mandated go to rehab sessions with the youth and become educated about the genetic, socialisation, and habitual tendencies of the drug. If they refuse, they should be jailed. In many cases, they are the cause of the child's addictive behaviour from birth.

The issue of people being allowed to get licences to grow ganja is especially troubling. Medicinal ganja has its merits and I fully support it for those reasons. Who will stop the criminals from raiding the field of these licensees and prevent the criminals from laying claim to the ganja these individuals grow?

Solution: The Government of Jamaica must take total control of the medical marijuana market and use the proceeds for the good of the people of Jamaica, just as other countries do with oil.