Columns

Where is the wisdom in 'freeing up the weed'?

BY KEVIN WILLIAMS

Wednesday, April 09, 2014    

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THE leaders in our Parliament are on the verge of making a decision to 'free up or not to free up' the weed. It seems to be one of those critical issues that is being downplayed until Jamaica wakes up one morning to hear that the weed has been freed.

It worries me to know that our parliamentary leaders are moving in support of unleashing on our nation a mind-altering drug which has been clinically proven to be a major contributor to the destruction of our people, mainly youth. What is even more shocking is that the heaviest basis of this argument has been:

1. To remove the stain of a criminal record from those who insist on having broken the law despite knowing beforehand that it was illegal to smoke or be in possession of it.

2. Moving to decriminalize 'ganja' would help reduce the clutter in the courts

3. This is what the people want.

Now, let's take this decision sensibly. There are many other crimes that produce a stain to one's police record, why haven't we moved to 'help' those people (rapists, thieves, murderers, child molesters, and fraudsters) with their criminal records?

Some will say ganja users only affect themselves when they smoke for 'personal use'. I would ask our leaders how does a mind-altering drug which was classified as criminal years ago get reclassified as OK today? If the drug alters the state of one's mind then doesn't it also affect the individuals around them and as such? This is the same Parliament that says they know that one man affects his family, a family affects a community, a community a parish, and the parishes the country. Have we even begun to do any studies to see the link between the use of ganja in other crimes? Everyone knows that an addict will do whatever it takes to get a fix yet here we are with our Jamaican leaders debating the matter. I shudder to think that crack cocaine could also be brought to Parliament to be decriminalised.

Well-thinking legislators sat many years ago and determined that ganja was so bad a drug that they had to put up stringent legislative fences around it to keep potential users away from it. They never simply wanted to collect money from those who were addicts by imposing fines. They were concerned about the people themselves. It's like having a vicious dog fenced in with signs that read: "Very bad dog, keep out," then afterwards some years have passed deciding that, though the signs have kept most persons away, they will now remove them because those who have not heeded the warning to keep out and have been bitten by the dog are now asking for the signs to be removed. Logically, more people will now get bitten as the dog is no less vicious than it was several years ago. People must realize that ganja is no less harmful today than it was when this law had originally been drafted. It is still destroying lives. So when our Parliament sends the message to our nation to say ganja is not as bad as it was originally deemed to be, then it is the Parliament that is contributing the destruction of the minds of our people by removing the signs and fence that keep many a safe distance from the substance.

Musical artistes, who themselves are addicted to ganja, have been allowed to foist their views on impressionable young minds, and now those youngsters have grown up to herald the same call. One member of Parliament went as far as saying in his presentation in the debate that he support decriminalising ganja, though he himself would not allow his children and loved ones to use it. He hypocritically announced that he will support the passage of a law that will allow my children and yours to do so.

I frankly cannot begin to understand the arguments about ganja cases clutter courts. That's like saying let's decriminalise murder that we can reduce the amount of work that the court has to do. That clearly cannot be a wise response to the problem. What is clearly needed is to educate the people about the dangers of ganja. We have banned the advertising of cigarettes but have supported the artistes who support and promote destroying the minds of our people.

None of this is contributing to the growth and development of our country. Our people need educated minds and a productive attitude, none of which decriminalising ganja would contribute to. Economically, it will contribute to a literal brain death and increase the strain on the health sector of our nation to have to house and care for the mentally ill as their numbers increase from ganja use. The so called reduction in the court clutter would become a clutter of mentally ill person roaming the streets and ultimately contributing to crime in an effort to sustain themselves. Has anyone ever tried reasoning with someone high on ganja, or worse reason with someone who needs a 'fix' of ganja. No logic resides in them. Have we begun to understand the beast that we are playing with as if it's a pet?

The people do not want the decriminalisation of ganja. The only people who actually want it so are those who are already addicted to it and those who are not users but are seeking points at the expense of further destroying the lives of the addicts. If the Parliament wants to help people who have criminal records as a result of having being charged for having ganja then they should set up a rehabilitation programme to help these people to stop doing drugs. These individual must undertake the expense of such rehabilitation onto themselves, taxpayers should not be asked to stand the cost of it because it was not taxpayers who purchased the substance and forced them to partake of it. When they have met the standards of a rehabilitated person then they can apply for a full pardon. There is no sense in removing the criminal record from someone who does drugs and in so doing send the message that Jamaica is sorry for having given them a criminal record in the past, and it's now OK for them to keep smoking for personal use. How would you have helped that man and how have you contributed to deterring others from getting into the act? All you would have done is made that man more comfortable in this destructive habit.

I will stand on our Jamaican pledge, "Before God and all mankind... in advancing the welfare of the whole human race". We must remain a nation that still says no to drugs. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil!

Consider these points:

1. Would you vote for a leader that smokes ganja for personal use?

2. Will I be charged for discrimination if I refuse to employ a ganja smoker and can the person I fired last week after discovering that he smokes ganja be reinstated to his/her job?

3. Will this mean that our men and women in uniform will be allowed to have ganja for personal use? How comforted I will be to know that the police, soldiers, firemen, pilots, and seamen could all be high when I need them?

4. My schoolteachers and babysitters that I leave with my children may all use ganja for their personal use?

5. Don't forget the surgeon who may have to operate on you in an emergency to save my life burning a joint to make sure he is nice and calm before he cuts you open.

6. Don't forget that our members of Parliament may choose to indulge themselves in a few ganja brownies for personal use then sit to make the laws of our land and plan the direction of our nation and oversee the nation's finances.

7. I can't wait for my children and I to get on a bus where the aroma of ganja perfumes the air first thing in the morning.

I can't wait to embrace this new and 'improved' Jamaica.

jaoppose@gmail.com

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