EDITOR, The Tribune.
Some days ago I listened attentively as the host of the ZNS Radio flagship programme Immediate Response lobbied passionately for the decriminalisation of weed in The Bahamas. He spent a significant portion of his allotted time on air lobbying the powers-that-be.
The gist of his argument is that if marijuana is decriminalised in The Bahamas, we would witness a decrease in the violent killings on the streets of New Providence. He is also of the opinion that marijuana bootleggers would see a drastic drop in their revenue. The illicit drug trade is one of the most lucrative industries in the entire world. Mexican drug lord Joaquin ‘‘El Chapo’’ Guzman appeared on the Forbes 2012 World’s Billionaires List. His success in this illicit trade continues to inspire many misguided young men in the region to become drug dealers. Currently, 18 US states, including the District of Columbia, permits the use of medical weed, also known as marijuana and herb and cannabis and ganja. The states of Colorado and Washington passed laws permitting the recreational use of the drug.
In addition to the host of Immediate Response, there is a Bahamian group calling itself Medicannabah that is also campaigning for the legalisation of medical weed. This group contends that the Dangerous Drugs Act allows a registered medical practitioner, a registered dentist, a licensed veterinary surgeon, a licensed pharmacist or any person who has been authorised by the minister of health to cultivate, to trade in and import marijuana.
The group further argues that weed has been used successfully to treat cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, glaucoma, hepatitis C, rheumatoid, severe muscle spasms, asthma, diabetes, autism, anorexia, wasting syndrome, severe nausea, osteoporosis, insomnia, seizures and many other ailments. Not surprisingly, pro-marijuana advocates such as the host of Immediate Response and Medicannabah argue lopsidedly in favour of decriminalising the drug. Rarely if ever do they look objectively at the negative effects of weed. The cons of weed use far outweighs the pros. I am quite positive that there are alternative medications for the ailments listed above.
To the best of my knowledge, there is no record of anybody dying due to the lack of marijuana. And if the government acquiesce to these people’s request, you can rest assured that they will return later down the road pushing for the government to pass laws which would allow Bahamians to smoke marijuana recreationally. All they want right now though is to get one foot in the door. It would come as no surprise to most Bahamians if one were to say that ganja use is inextricably linked to the Rastafarian movement. Rastafarian founder Leonard Percival Howell was the biggest ganja planter in modern Jamaican history. His Pinnacle community flourished economically during the 1940s because of the mass cultivation and distribution of the weed. Howell made marijuana a religious sacrament for his thousands of Rasta followers.
According to historian Helene Lee, the use of ganja began in Jamaica among Indian indentured workers in the nineteenth century. Says Lee, this accounts for the many Hindi and Urdu words in the ganja lexicon (including the famously potent Kali weed, also spelled collie weed).
Many Jamaicans were simply influenced by the ganja smoking Indians. But how did marijuana smoking gain a foothold in The Bahamas? I think the blame for this can be laid at the doorstep of the late Robert Nesta Marley and the Wailers. Ganja use became a new fad among hundreds of Bahamians after Marley’s concert at the Queen Elizabeth II Sports Centre on December 15, 1979. His Rastafarian religion also became fashionable among many young Bahamians.
Marijuana contains an ingredient called Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which stimulates the cannabinoid receptors (CDRs), which are located in the high density areas of the brain. The CDRs influence pleasure, memory, thinking, coordination, concentration, movement, sensory and time perception. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), CDRs are part of a vast communication network known as the endocannabinoid system, which plays a critical role in normal brain development and function.
The NIDA further says that when a person smokes weed, THC stimulates the CDRs artificially, disrupting function of the natural, or endogenous, cannabinoids. An over-stimulation of these receptors in key brain areas produces the marijuana high as well as other effects on mental processes. In the process of time, marijuana use will alter the CDRs, hence paving the way to addiction and to withdrawal symptoms when drug use stops. Studies have also shown that prolonged marijuana use causes neural and cognitive impairment.
According to the noted American nueroscientist Dr Reuben Baler, THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, hijacks and corrupts the natural process of the endocannabinoid. He further stated that marijuana smokers achieve lower in academics, job satisfaction and job performance. Studies done by the NIDA have shown that about nine per cent of people who use marijuana become dependent on it. The number increases to about one in six among those who start using it at a young age, and to 25 per cent and 50 per cent among daily users, says the NIDA. If any government were to decriminalise medical ganja use in The Bahamas, it will lead to a devastating rippling effect and the subsequent further erosion of the moral fabric and Christian values of this country. It would also encourage other nonconformists and freethinkers to push for the implementation of their left-wing agendas. As a born-again Christian, I am diametrically opposed to any attempt to secularise The Bahamas. And that includes the legalisation of marijuana
Freeport, Grand Bahama,
June 24, 2013.