By INIGO ‘NAUGHTY’ ZENICAZELAYA
I must admit I was deeply saddened and perplexed after personally watching the sickening video that has gone “viral” of a man as he lay dying after a shooting incident involving an off-duty police officer on Exuma on Wednesday night.
According to reports, the incident occurred shortly after 9pm when an off-duty officer shot the young man in a marijuana incident. After being transported to the Exuma medical facility for treatment, the young man succumbed to his injuries at 11pm while waiting at Exuma International Airport for an air ambulance to New Providence.
The officer involved has subsequently been relieved of his duties and is assisting police with their investigation.
I am watching keenly to see the outcome of this case.
I’m no fan or supporter of the indiscriminate, thoughtless way graphic videos are shared far and wide throughout The Bahamas; it’s a classless act showing zero respect for the victims and their families. However, in this instance, there is arguably merit to having a recording of this incident as the officer in question in the video was reportedly off-duty, in plain clothes, and there was no “bodycam”.
There are many questions surrounding this shooting that will be answered in due course, after the police and courts have had their say, so we won’t go into those questions at this time.
However, I think we can use this as a “teachable moment” to open a national discourse on how we view marijuana in this country.
FURTHER NEED FOR LEGALISATION AND DECRIMINALISATION
There is growing consensus for the legalisation and decriminalisation of medicinal and recreational marijuana.
Attention, Marijuana Commission: I already know you read this column. So might I suggest you look at Uruguay as a potential model as we trudge toward making a decision on legalising and decriminalising of both marijuana and hemp in The Bahamas that’s mutually beneficial to all parties concerned?
URUGUAY - THE PROTOTYPE
Some seven years after it became the first country in the world to fully legalise marijuana, Uruguay’s youth are no more likely to get high under the new law, according to a recent, in-depth study conducted by the International Journal of Drug Policy.
In a soon to be released report and article to be published in the International Journal of Drug Policy next month revealed and I quote: “There is no evidence of an impact on cannabis use or the perceived risk of use among adolescents in the country. Neither an increase in student perception of cannabis availability, following legalisation.”
In 2013, Uruguay passed the most far-reaching form of legalisation in the world to date.
By law in Uruguay:
• Cannabis sales are restricted to those age 18 or older who register with the state.
• Other products may only be produced by state-licensed producers and sold at specially licensed pharmacies.
• Regulators cap THC levels, and government price controls of about $1.30 are imposed upon the flower.
Yet another revenue stream to Uruguay’s bottom line, from recreational users.
Added to the already existing, healthy revenue from medicinal marijuana,
Uruguay has possibly created the blueprint for the region about the legalisation and decriminalisation of marijuana.
The bottom line is, with more education, and with the newer data that is available, perhaps it’s time to view this substance through an informed ‘present,’ not through the lens of a less informed past.
That way, maybe, Bahamians lives will be better for it.