“THERE is no such thing as being inebriated from weed. You can smoke all day long and still work, still drive, still talk, basically you can still function perfectly. But drink straight for two hours. You won’t be able to stand, talk or function at all. Yet weed is illegal... How did this planet get so stupid?”
This was the comment of a Bahamian on tribune242 to National Security Minister Dr Bernard Nottage’s statement this week that like many countries in the rest of the world the Bahamas government would soon have to consider the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Already the cry from many Bahamians is that government should also consider it for recreational use — especially if the object is to get rid of the criminal element associated with drugs, and the heavy drain on the country’s resources in trying to stamp it out.
However, we do not agree that a person on marijuana can “function perfectly”. This is just not so. A drunk might collapse faster into his beer jug, but the thought processes of a marijuana user is so slowed that, depending on the type business he is in, he becomes a menace —especially if he is behind the wheel of a vehicle or in charge of machinery.
The drug scandal in the Bahamas reached its crescendo in 1983-1984 with the Commission of Inquiry into the “illegal use of the Bahamas for the transshipment of drugs“ to the United States confirming local sip-sip that drugs had permeated every level of society, even to cabinet level.
Many Bahamians were horrified when The Tribune reported that when a school teacher asked her students to write an essay on what they aspired to be when they grew into manhood, the majority of the boys wrote that they wanted to be drug dealers.
These children were mesmerised by the gold jewellery hanging from the necks and fingers of their fathers, uncles, cousins and friends. These drug dealers drove fancy cars, built their condominiums and had a pretty girl on each arm. Often a dead body was found, gunned down by a rival in the trade who had been cheated of his ill-gotten gains. But to the young, who saw only the glitter, it was a goal to be achieved. It was worth throwing the books aside and being some drug dealer’s gopher. The young man would eventually start dealing in his own right, and before he was out of his twenties, he was either in jail or his body was cold in the morgue. But the young never looked that far ahead.
We knew our society had thrown away its moral compass when these drug dealers, because of their wealth, were accepted in many areas of society. One only has to recall what became acceptable back then to understand what is happening in our society today. It was a simple case of cause and effect — and today we are suffering from the effect. As was said in Hosea 8:1-14 – they sowed the wind, today we reap the whirlwind. The Commissioner of Police had much cause for his comment Wednesday that today the country is “in a bad place for crime.”
There are many stories that we could tell about those years. But we shall tell the one when drugs hit The Tribune where it really hurt.
It was 1984 – the year the Commission released its report on drug smuggling and the extent to which our society from the top to the bottom had been contaminated.
Every morning — The Tribune was then an evening publication— we would take a tour with our foreman, the late Sammy Haven, of the press room and talk with the staff. We noticed that one of our senior pressmen, a robust young man, was not only lethargic, but had lost a tremendous amount of weight. We were concerned, and so was Sammy. He speculated that the young man was on drugs – marijuana to be exact – that was the drug of the day at that time.
We did an investigation and almost passed out by what we discovered. Not only was all of our press room staff on marijuana, but through the back door, as we preached in the columns of this newspaper against drugs, downstairs The Tribune was being sold each evening by a staff member with a pinch of marijuana as his private sideline. With this scenario, we were out of business. If these drug heads were allowed to continue, there would have been a serious accident.
However, we were saved by our son, who was at school in England and on his way home for the long summer vacation.
Unlike others his age who wanted to be a policeman, fireman, or pilot, Robert’s only ambition from a very young age was to learn how to run the large Goss Community press, which, in those days, printed The Tribune. In his 14th summer, we decided as a birthday gift to have him trained on his dream press. We got the best Goss instructor for him and from that day on there was no turning back. With a natural knack for all things mechanical, by the end of the summer Robert was an astonishingly clever pressman.
In the following summer, when he was only 15, The Tribune was in desperate need of his expertise. We had to fire all of our press room staff.
Robert and Sammy Haven hired new staff – mainly from the Family Islands — and the training started. By the end of the summer, Robert had left us with young men, who could carry on until his return for the Christmas holidays. From then on, we had frequent drug tests on our press room staff, where use of drugs or alcohol meant immediate dismissal.
So no one will ever convince us that marijuana users can function normally. They cannot. They never will be able to because their brain — their most vital organ —is badly affected. One can see it in the glassy look in their eyes and the slow movement of their tongue.
If this country ever pushes for the use of recreational marijuana, then businesses will have to have strict hiring practices with mandatory drug testing being a part of their employment contract.
The situation of the country today is bad enough without opening the doors to possibly facilitating a bunch of drug-induced zombies charting our future.