Please do not legalise marijuana
THE EDITOR, Sir: I would like to add my thoughts to the discussion on legalising the use and production of marijuana for recreational purposes.
I do not think that if we legalised the use of marijuana that it would benefit the majority of Jamaicans.
A few artistes and their producers/record companies may now benefit from marijuana promotion. The vast majority of the young people who attempt to emulate them are unsuccessful both in the music industry and anywhere else. These aspiring artistes hope for a whiff of inspiration. The reality is that only a few can be stars, even those that work hard. Meanwhile, marijuana has its effects on the minds of young persons. Widespread use would ensure a loss of a valuable asset - people.
We assume that the same persons would continue to use, only without prosecution. Is this true? Has any research been done to find out if more people would use it if it became legal? Will we then have rules about smoking ganja in public places as there are now rules about tobacco?
We assume that the same people will continue to successfully farm marijuana as before. Ganja farmers, don't assume this is true. If farming it became legal you might be surprised how big companies would soon end your business. You might even find yourselves facing foreign competition that can grow it large scale and at a cheaper rate.
You may laugh at the prospect of Jamaica importing ganja. We should be laughing at the idea of Jamaica importing sugar or bananas or coconut oil, but we're not.
Who stands to benefit from the legalisation of marijuana? Not the users, not the addicts, not the young users and addicts-to-be, not the unsupervised and vulnerable children of this country. Neither do the current farmers. A small group of persons - foreigners some of them - stand to benefit.
Who stands to lose? The users, the addicts. Their families. Ironically, potentially the current stakeholders.
We all stand to lose
Actually, all of us stand to lose because our identity as Jamaicans stands to lose. This move would crystallise us in the world's eyes as users. Jamaica: the place to go have a spliff and do things normally not done at home. Jamaica, the place of the drug users, is not a feasible place for investment or economic growth. Normal employers in Jamaica and abroad want to hire responsible people, not drug users. Which foreign firm is going to invest in teaching high technology to nationals of a country thought to be perpetually high? Which foreign firm wants to hire workers in Jamaica whose minds are affected by marijuana?
If you don't want to consider the lives of those who have been mentally scarred by marijuana, if you don't want to consider any other health risks, if the wasted lives of the young men on the street do not bother you, consider the bottom line that may well be your only god/conscience: Legalising marijuana would seriously damage Brand Jamaica and is, therefore, not in the interest of the vast majority of Jamaicans who want some work to survive. Please do not legalise marijuana.