Is marijuana really harmless?
THE EDITOR, Sir:
Marijuana legislation is being delayed without apparent reason. This is not only in Jamaica; it extends to many US states, 18 at the last count.
We should be concerned with this delay in terms of possible income being lost. Yet this is no surprise. Almost all of our medical and psychological experts seem reluctant to make a positive commitment on its safety, especially its long-term effects.
Yet there are persons willing to invest and to distribute our marijuana, and this factor is worrisome. Depriving someone of his or her investment is not a course of action to be supported. So what is to be done to reconcile the differences?
There is not much being said in respect of legitimisation of marijuana at a time when there should be active news. The congressman from Rhode Island, Patrick J. Kennedy, has made some interesting observations:
"While it is appreciated that accused persons may be removed from incarceration when the penalties are lifted, among other benefits, we have yet to see what a major marketing thrust will produce; and will it have a unfavourable image with our children. In 1999 when tobacco was heavily fined for misleading advertising, it was still able to further publicise its success in advertising by phenomenal growth in cigarette sales, spending billions of dollars. What will happen when they put this kind of money behind marijuana and its products?"
The question remains: Is there going to be damage to human well-being should it be allowed to proliferate? Once legislation is approved, the matter may not be able to be recalled. The only way we can continue on this path is to be assured by our scientific community that there will be no permanent damage to our adolescents. I would think that we should not move until adequate safety parameters are in place for those most vulnerable.
It also now appears that the Big Tobacco companies are getting into the fray. They have registered domain names, which place them on the Internet with marijuana and cannabis. This is a tobacco strategy to get to the children: Catch them when they are young, then you have a customer for life.
Addiction is big business, and now, with legal marijuana, it is going to get bigger.