Guardrails needed to protect youth from ganja

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

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Dear Editor,

There is no reason Jamaica should not take full advantage of all the opportunities available for the development of the medicinal use of ganja. In fact, one wonders why it is that so few Jamaicans paid any attention to the development of the medicinal possibilities available from the plant.

Ganja has now captured the spotlight in a way which would have been unimaginable two to three years ago. The cultivation of ganja is now being pursued passionately, but the concern is, what safeguards are being put in place to protect our youngsters?

The message that our young people may be hearing, regardless of the provisions of the law, is that the use of ganja is a good thing. Yet, according to researchers from the University of Montreal and New York's Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai: “The nature of the teenage brain makes users of cannabis amongst this population particularly at risk of developing addictive behaviours and suffering other long-term negative effects.” This study also warned that dependence on ganja can be inherited genetically. (

The amendment to the law pertaining to ganja in 2015 was generally interpreted to mean the “free up weed now”. As one windscreen wiper told me, “Ganja cheaper now, so wi can buy more.” The fact that the amended law does in fact provide for penalties for use contrary to the terms of the law is seen as inconsequential.

As Jamaica proceeds on this pathway, let us not forget the many people who, in their youth, got trapped by the addictiveness of ganja and ended up useless to themselves and to society.

In the interest of the welfare of all our people, but particularly the young, we need to ensure that the guardrails are strong and effective even as the train departs. To do otherwise would be nothing short of recklessness.

Alexia Smith

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