Letters & Opinion

‘Government must not bow to pressure to legalize marijuana’

Image of St. Lucia Methodist Superintendent Seth Ampadu.
By Rev. Seth Ampadu, Superintendent Minister, Methodist Church, St. Lucia Circuit

ALL well-meaning people of St Lucia must rise up and say “NO” to any attempt to decriminalize marijuana use in the country. Why do some people now want the Government to legalize something that is known to be destructive and addictive? Are those people pushing for marijuana legalization aware of the long term effects of the herb?

As concerned citizens sounding a loud and definite NO, we are protecting and saving our society and the future of our young people many of whom have already messed up their lives having been enticed into thinking that having a puff was okay. They have been sadly deceived.

Marijuana has been like the thief mentioned by Jesus Christ in the Book of John, chapter 10 verse 10 – the thief that comes only to steal and kill and destroy. Indeed, many lives have been destroyed by marijuana whose users were looking for happiness. Bright young people have ended up as helpless slaves, mere zombies.

Decriminalization will mean open access to the marijuana for more of our vulnerable young people. This will be very dangerous for the future of our country.

Detailed research reveals that marijuana can cause physical, emotional and psychological damage especially when used during your teenage years while you are growing and developing. It is no secret that young people are involved in marijuana use in St Lucia even though it is illegal. To legalize it will simply open the “flood gates” to wider abuse.

Those who are championing legalization are painting a beautiful and attractive picture with claims about medical benefits of the herb and its place in certain religious practices. What they conveniently ignore are the long term negative effect on the health of the youth and the country.

Proponents argue about the monetary value of marijuana and say it can boost our economy. That seems fine. As a nation we need money for development. However, let us also remember that all that glitters is not gold. What about the health hazards marijuana use bring? Will the money accrued from marijuana be able to solve the health problems of the affected people? As caring and concerned people, let us open our “eyes” to distinguish between genuine societal development and the dust of personal interests, which some people would like to “throw into our eyes”.

Let us not forget Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death”.

The argument that marijuana has medicinal value must be very carefully examined and assessed. A recent study shows that high doses can actually increase pain. There is a therapeutic window for analgesia, with low doses being ineffective, medium doses resulting in pain relief, and high doses increasing pain. It is important to note that researchers also found a significant correlation between increased marijuana use and drowsiness, loss of control over thought and action, and transient depression and paranoia.

As people, we should remember that our society is a religious society which holds the tenets of the Bible dearly. Nobody can convince me that marijuana has a religious purpose; rather it is destructive. Researchers reveal that in using marijuana, you are deliberately inducing chemicals into your nervous system to alter your consciousness.

Some of those pushing for decriminalization like to cite Genesis 1:29 where God says “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food”.

I am of the view that the Bible also condemns as sinful, intoxication with alcohol and by extension other substances as well. If you read these passages from Lev. 10:9; 1 Cor. 5:11; 6:9-10; Gal. 5:21; Eph. 5:18, 1 Cor. 6:9-20, you would find that the Bible is against addiction to food, immorality, or anything else that is harmful. I believe that marijuana is addictive and because of that it is bad for our society.

As a boy growing up, I saw so many of my age group in my community who became insane because of marijuana use. Some of them had to get psychiatric help in hospital and some ended up on the streets almost naked.

I am willing to be corrected but I am of the view that many of the people on our streets appearing to be insane, are victims of marijuana. Nobody can convince me that marijuana usage should be encouraged in our society. In my opinion it will produce more “insane people”.

Some people point to some countries where marijuana has been legalized and feel that we should do the same. Those countries have control mechanisms, wellness centers and other facilities to deal with their situations. We are not there yet, so it is important not to rush to compare ourselves to such countries.

I had the opportunity to travel to some of the places where marijuana is used quite openly. (MARIJUANA is decriminalized in Uruguay and Canada only) I had a nasty experience when I boarded a taxi with other passengers and the driver of the taxi was smoking marijuana. This forced us to disembark.

Research has proved that marijuana use in many young people leads to the abuse of alcohol or other illicit drugs or the abuse of legal prescription medications. In my research it was not at all comforting to learn that continued use of marijuana damages not only the health and life of the user but also does great harm to the people around him or her. Smoking marijuana regularly can damage the cells in the bronchial passages which protect the body against inhaled microorganisms and decrease the ability of the immune cells in the lungs to fight off fungi, bacteria, and tumor cells. Again, scientist are saying that daily marijuana users have a 30 percent higher risk of injuries, presumably from accidents. The research found that people who drive after using marijuana are almost twice as likely to be involved in a fatal car crash. Marijuana users’ risks of heart attack more than quadruple in the first hour after smoking marijuana. The researchers suggest that such an effect might occur from marijuana’s effects on blood pressure and heart rate and reduced oxygen-carrying capacity of blood.

Additionally, the smoke from cannabis the plant from which marijuana is derived contains compounds that can damage DNA and increase the risk of cancer just like tobacco smoke.

From all indication marijuana usage cannot be justified. There is much evidence to prove that it is harmful and dangerous. It slows down one ability to “think effectively”. To conclude, I want to posit that marijuana use is harmful to the human body. This can cause long term negative effect on our society. In view of that I call on the government and all concerned and well-meaning Lucians to say NO to legalization of marijuana. It may have monetary value but the negative impact on our society is so huge. So young people say NO to Marijuana. Parents say No Marijuana for the future of our children and our country. God bless our nation and make it an example of genuine growth and development.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *