Letters & Opinion

What San Francisco Can Teach Our Government about Weed before Bowing to Legalisation Pressure

What They Won’t Tell You About…

MOMENTUM seems to be gathering in St. Lucia for the legalisation of marijuana, after the Cannabis Movement spoke with Cabinet last week — a meeting described as ‘historic.’

The huge amount of public support for legalisation, as opposed to all the stigma attached to it just 20 years ago, can quite frankly be used as a case study in just how culture and perception can change in such a short span of time.

All of a sudden, what was unhealthy and illegal is now seen as unfairly stigmatised and a potential cash cow.

And this is what St. Lucians should pay special attention to. While Rastafarians and other like groups believe this is some sort of religious, human rights or culture issue, what marijuana legalisation really boils down to is money.

This is what San Francisco and other Californian cities thought, when legalising marijuana on a state level–contrary to all of their nation’s federal laws–that marijuana legalisation is merely a goldmine that they’ve sat on for far too long.

But the fatal flaw in their and now our rationale when it comes to this issue, is the underestimation—and at times—complete ignoring of the negative effect of marijuana consumption and the impacts of its legalised sale at an economic level.

“We get to serve a much larger audience,” ABC News reported at the beginning of this year, five days after California legalised the recreational use of marijuana. And it is emblematic of how short-sighted a lot of the pro-marijuana advocates are: sales increase, therefore, more money is generated, therefore the country benefits.

This tunnel-vision approach to this admittedly highly sensitive topic is potentially very dangerous, as it fails to take into account other factors.

In terms of drug abuse and increased vagrancy, San Francisco is currently struggling with a heroine epidemic, where the streets are littered not only with lots of used needles, but also with piles of human faeces; as the homelessness rates have skyrocketed in that city in recent times.

I was personally struck by a news report a couple of months ago, where San Francisco’s Mayor London Breed, was walking through the faeces-laden streets of the city and lamenting the continued degradation of what was once known as a beautiful city.

Now some weed advocates may ask; what does marijuana legalisation have to do with San Francisco’s heroine problem; given that they’re two different drugs? I will in response, refer them to this 2016 article in the New York Times by Robert L. DuPont who wrote: “It should come as no surprise that the vast majority of heroin users have used marijuana (and many other drugs) not only long before they used heroin but while they are using heroin.”

He goes on to write that: “There is ample evidence that early initiation of drug use primes the brain for enhanced later responses to other drugs.”

DuPont is the first director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, so he has a bit of a clue as to what he’s talking about.

Yet we constantly hear this refrain from marijuana advocates: that the side-effects of marijuana use are overstated and are used as a scare tactic.

However, the opposite seems to be true to me. For during this post-common sense era we currently live in, we now see governments (who have been built up as this anti-marijuana straw man by marijuana advocates); figuring out ways to get their cut from the sale of this drug before officially legalising it.

A case in point that the negative side effects of marijuana use are understated and not overstated is the fact that doing research for this piece and trying to read up on marijuana side effects, was like pulling teeth.

Google’s front pages are flooded with positive reviews of marijuana legalisation, even when one types, asking for negative side effects! No doubt Alphabet and its “algorithms”, along with their Silicon Valley cohorts, have been guaranteed a cut of this marijuana legalisation goldmine.

So we know, per what we see in San Francisco and other Northern California cities, that drug-addiction and vagrancy rates increase after the legalisation of marijuana. If San Francisco can’t afford this demographic impact, then neither can St. Lucia and our government should take this into consideration.

On the health front, the negative impacts of marijuana-use remain what they were twenty years ago; when DARE officers used to come to our schools and tell us about THC and its impact on our brains.

However, all of this info seems lost now as I barely hear about it anymore. I suppose in this current pro-weed climate, it has been cast out as an alternative fact and a mere scare tactic that has little basis in truth. Thus it was true twenty years ago, but untrue now. Oh how potential money generation can change the minds of mainstream scientists and doctors!

Be that as it may, (admittedly) based on what I’ve read, marijuana use still poses serious health risks.

In terms of second hand smoke (SHS), this Matthew Springer report informs us that: “One minute of exposure to marijuana SHS substantially impairs endothelial function in rats for at least 90 minutes, considerably longer than comparable impairment by tobacco SHS.” (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)

His report also poignantly noted that: “Despite public awareness that tobacco second-hand smoke (SHS) is harmful, many people still assume that marijuana SHS is benign.”

Now why is that? Could it be that those in line for significant fiscal boosts from marijuana’s legalisation are burying the truth about its negative side-effects? Connect the dots; (and all of this despite the fact that Springer’s research proves that the endothelial impairment caused by marijuana second hand smoke, is “considerably longer than comparable impairment by tobacco SHS.”)

So why do we only hear about the negative side-effects of tobacco use and tobacco second hand smoke? This all boils down to the money big-wigs can get from legalising this clearly dangerous drug; money that is oftentimes squeezed from the addicted fingers of junkies who were able to gain the sympathy of a few onlookers; who in turn have no clue what their hard earned money is about to buy.

And the vicious cycle continues. But don’t forget all the money that can be generated from the legalised sale of marijuana, right?

San Francisco said the same thing and it’s now a worse (fill in the blank) than the countries President Trump infamously highlighted some time ago.

If marijuana legalisation and the consequences that follow–including the increase in the abuse of hard drugs such as cocaine and heroine–can devastate what was once a prosperous American city, what do you think it will do to our already beleaguered capital and the rest of our debt-ridden country? Think about it.

Dean Nestor is from Choiseul but from young adulthood, his years were spent in Castries. He studied at St. Mary’s College from 1999 to 2004 and later pursued a college education in English Literature, History and Sociology at Sir Arthur Lewis Community College from 2004 to 2006.

After graduating from Sir Arthur Lewis Community College, he began working as a teacher from 2009 until 2016...Read full bio...



  1. This is not San Francisco this is St Lucia and this is not the first time that America has legalized pot as they call it plus try explaining your article or in better terms Tell that to all the men and women who have lost their lives and most people their future ruined for the sake of this plant i mean man out here in the streets getting their jaw crack by police for having a spliff in their mouths Now that this plant is about to be decriminalized we now have a chance where we can place less focus on the smoking of the plant and more on the beneficial and medicinal side of it The article to me in my opinion is just adding more stigma For a fact it has been proven that this herb plant is not a gate way drug there is no proof to this saying (marijuana is a gate way drug) statement That statement is a social and political rant that came about during the time the American government declared the war on drugs go look it up As a boy i remember the Apache helicopters flying over St Lucia heading to St Vincent to go burn down weed plantations back in the 80s while they were at it the soldiers slung plenty sacks of weed back up into the choppers and left with it Man i mean!! what u think this is? alcohol! St Lucia is plagued with more teenage alcohol consumption and we keep wondering why the crime rate is so high a major contributor in my opinion SO its like this No Work No Money Drink Rum it Cost us Nothing and to top that every little corner in St Lucia have rum bars its difficult to stir the youth away from alcohol in this Country maybe u should write an article on teenage alcoholics in St Lucia and stop applying more stigma to the plant

  2. I urge this or any other administration, NOT to decriminalize this Marijuana craze.
    They stopped hanging criminals for murder, and now you have a problem on your
    hands. You will have a much greater problem health-wise, if this thing is legalized.
    If you ever did, then comes a push to decriminalize Cocaine. You are not equipped
    medically to handle this coming epidemic.This coming apocalypse is worldwide and
    I beg of you, to wake up and rather, SMELL THE ROSES instead of that Weed.Amen.

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