EDITOR, The Tribune.
THE re-emergence of former Free National Movement (FNM) Cabinet minister Phenton Neymour coinciding with the CARICOM Regional Commission on Marijuana’s highly anticipated study on the decriminalisation of marijuana in the Caribbean at the recent Heads of Government meeting was serendipitous. Being diagnosed with colon cancer must have been a harrowing experience for Mr Neymour and his family.
I want the former FNM MP to know that YHWH Rophe is still in the business of healing. According to Exodus 15:26, the Lord is more than capable of healing any ailment, no matter how debilitating. According to the Mayo Clinic’s website, colon cancer is cancer of the large intestine, which is the final part of the digestive tract. It is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States among men and women. There are no known cure for colorectal cancer. Early detection is the best protection against this dangerous disease. I cannot empathise with the former FNM MP, as I have never been diagnosed with any form of cancer. However, I can appreciate the fact that the last four years have presented a most frightening ordeal to him and his family.
Neymour’s decision to use his celebrity in the call for the legalisation of marijuana for medicinal use has given impetus to the pro-marijuana camp. I believe that Neymour is now being used as the poster boy for the legalisation of medical marijuana by the media. Marijuana advocates are now all over Facebook posting pro-weed statements attributed to Neymour in support of legalising weed. These advocates are saying that marijuana saved Neymour’s life. Whereas the former FNM MP has emphatically stated that he is opposed to the recreational use of the plant, Health Minister Dr Duane Sands was candid enough to admit that the end goal of marijuana advocates is recreational adult use. Most marijuana advocates are hiding behind the banner of Neymour and medical marijuana.
Anyone who believes that 71 percent of the 998 poll participants in the recent Public Domain survey who favoured the legalisation of marijuana for medicinal purposes have no hidden desire for its recreational use is being dangerously naive. I am willing to wager that the overwhelming majority of these participants are cancer free. The FNM must tread carefully on the marijuana matter. The Minnis administration was elected to fix the economic, criminal and immigration issues of the country. It must remember that legalising weed was not at the top of the list of Bahamian voters in 2017. It cannot allow itself to become sidetracked by a nonessential issue.
The personal views of Neymour, who is a private citizen, mustn’t be used to shape public policy which would end up impacting hundreds of thousands of Bahamians. What’s more, legalising weed could very well embolden cocaine crackheads to lobby for the legalisation of medical cocaine. As dangerous as cocaine is, it also has some medicinal value just like weed, as both are derived from botanical sources. I kid you not.
As is the case with all controversial debates, there are pros and cons with respect to legalising weed. What are the pros of medical marijuana for cancer treatment? According to the American Cancer Society, marijuana can be helpful in treating nausea and vomiting from cancer chemotherapy. The Society also states that the cannaboids and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can slow or cause the death of certain cancer cells in lab dishes. The Society cautioned, however, that relying on marijuana alone while avoiding or delaying conventional medical care may cause serious health problems. Now what are the cons of weed smoking?
According to Medical Daily, long term marijuana use can increase the susceptibility for Alzheimer’s disease, worsen verbal memory, weaken heart muscles and increase osteoporosis. The plant can also increase periodontal disease, poor vision and insomnia. Researchers have also stated that chronic marijuana users are three times more likely to die from high blood pressure than non-users. Readers of this daily should be aware of the prevalence of non-communicable diseases in The Bahamas. Bahamians are dying of heart disease and hypertension at an alarming rate. The plant also increases memory loss and incoherence among users.
I have witnessed this firsthand in the workplace from a former colleague who is a practising Rastafarian. His inability to remember hardly anything was simply astonishing. Understand, this was a marijuana user in his late 20s. I am not talking about a geriatric. Yet he struggled mightily with dementia after smoking pot in ritualistic fashion, even at his youthful age when his cognitive skills should have been at their peak.
I am willing to grant to Neymour and other marijuana lobbyists that the plant has a few health benefits. But I think the marijuana camp is guilty of overstating its case as it continues in its crusade to get the plant legalised. Neymour gave his honest opinion on weed and advocates for the plant, many of whom desire to smoke it recreationally, have seized upon the opportunity by using his name to further their agenda. The cons for legalising weed far outweighs the benefits in my humble layman’s opinion.
July 8, 2018.