I was “unintentionally” eavesdropping on a conversation at the bus stop near my house over the weekend over a topic that keeps poking its head in and out of current hot topics and it just left me with a number of questions that I would genuinely like answers to.
The topic being discussed by five young men, aged roughly between 17-32 years was of course, marijuana or as they put it “de weed”.
Now I need to add that I find long waits for a bus extremely tedious and frustrating. However, for the first time, I found myself wishing that the bus took a longer time to arrive as I was so deeply engrossed in what was being said…and I think the young men noticed my interest so they made it all the more inviting to my attention.
Four of the five young men raised some rather valid points and it was quite evident that they had been paying attention to all the talk of the subject in both the local and international media because their arguments were impressive.
Out of the many points raised was the fact that killer substances like alcohol, cigarettes and solvents, yes solvents like nail polish, nail polish remover and Tip-x are very legal and readily available yet one organic plant with a far less death rate is demonised.
The young men stated that cigarettes not only kill the smokers; but has the potential to kill the second hands smokers, in other words, the people around the smokers at the time they are smoking and the death rate is alarmingly high…I don’t think I need to go into too much detail there but I’ll just say one word: “Cancer”, Enough said.
Alcohol, which also needs no introduction, destroys millions of lives all year round and its consumption remains one of the most common vices amongst individuals. The trail of devastation, according to the four, is too long to even begin to comprehend and then there are the small numbers who go beyond normalcy and resort to sniffing solvents and or overdosing themselves on over the counter medication including cough syrup which has become the main ingredient in the popular recreational drink “Sizurp”.
However, marijuana does have its side effects including the ones indicated below which were findings from my own research;
•Poor coordination of movement
•Lowered reaction time
•After an initial “up,” the user feels sleepy or depressed
•Increased heartbeat (and risk of heart attack)
LONG-term effects of marijuana
•Reduced resistance to common illnesses (colds, bronchitis, etc.)
•Suppression of the immune system
•Increase of abnormally structured cells in the body
•Reduction of male sex hormones
•Rapid destruction of lung fibres and lesions (injuries) to the brain could be permanent
•Reduced sexual capacity
•Study difficulties: reduced ability to learn and retain information
•Apathy, drowsiness, lack of motivation
•Personality and mood changes
•Inability to understand things clearly
I did not notice as many grave side effects as the substances named earlier although I guess one can easily argue that some of the mentioned side effects, namely the short term effects can indeed cause or lead to death.
And this was the main argument of the one man who stood against the rest.
However, in my opinion it all boils down to choice and whether one chooses to use these substances or not and the main question running through my head is why is it that this one herb is illegal and the other substances which are far worse, again in my opinion, are free for all to access and consume?
Why not just criminalise them all or in turn, why not decriminalise the plant?
I would be lying if I said that I have never “dabbled” with marijuana socially in my teenage years (in the UK), so had I dabbled in St. Lucia back then and was caught, should my future be completely destroyed by me being sent to prison amongst hardened criminals for that one minor act?
I get it, the law is the law. You do the crime, you do the time but SERIOUSLY??? Can one honestly say it is fair to send someone to prison for a personal amount of marijuana and in the process, leave them with a police record, thus hindering their future prospects namely employment which could in turn result in them turning to crime to survive?
In 2015, so many nations have already opened their eyes to the facts and statistics surrounding marijuana and are moving to decriminalise it including many states in America and even Jamaica– that one I never thought I would see but it happened. So why is it that in St. Lucia, people are still being sent to an already overcrowded Bordelais Correctional Facility for the sake of being found with one “stick of weed” or as the guys were calling it, a “three or a five bag”?
Shouldn’t that space be reserved for real criminals?
Like I said, I had many questions, too numerous to ask right here and now but let’s just say that the four youngsters had the one older guy cornered to the point where I felt sorry for the lad. He conceded and made his peace by buying a coconut from one of the youngsters who was selling the good stuff at the said bus stop.
Needless to say, I long for the day that this issue is seriously discussed and put up for consideration by the ones with the authority to change the laws because the arguments have been made and we all see what is happening as the plant is illegal…what’s the worst that can happen if it isn’t?