A puff of pot by law or not?
Well known drug counsellor Roger Husbands would have none of this
legalized marijuana talk. Even illegal as its use is right now, he argues, pot
smoking by schoolchildren remains a problem.
“Children go to school and sleep under the influence of marijuana. They
can’t focus under its influence. Can you imagine our education system if we
were to legalize it?” Mr Husbands challenges us. “Who is going to come out
from that system now? Our children are not going to be as educated or as
prepared to take on society.”
Naturally, proponents of marijuana smoking and drinking and their
legalization will accuse Roger Husbands of using predictable scare tactics to
defend the current state of criminalization of the drug’s use. But is what he
proffers all that forced and preposterous?
Even the most avid –– and remotely intelligent –– supporter of
decriminalized marijuana use will agree that tots and teens should not be
puffing pot (not even exposed to its second-hand smoke), or be using any
mind-altering substances for that matter, for our young are in their most
crucial, important developmental years.
Yet, ironically, as Mr Husbands points out, the weed or ganja has been
causing considerable problems in our schools “for years”. Surely, children are
not the major source of supply; not the wholesale dealers; not the importers.
These are all adults, who ought to know better.
Apart from the much touted “medical benefit” of marijuana, what other
social good then will come of the decriminalization of the drug vis-a-vis the
body and mind of our young children and their exposure to the legitimate use
of a potentially devastating herb in the home, on the street and every other
Of course, there is the current theory that general education and regulation
–– not outright criminalization –– of legal, age-restricted substances, effectively
decrease youth access and use; and this has given rise to the legalizing of
marijuana use for medical purposes and leisure in some states of America.
Paradoxically, the same United States remains ever ready to hammer
countries elsewhere that would harvest and distribute the drug. But that is
another point for discussion at another time.
The legal marijuana use advocates argue that much as teen consumption
of tobacco and alcohol, two legal, age-restricted products, is monitored and
controlled, the very same could apply to the enjoyment of pot. They insist
that through a concerted effort by the government, businesses and educational
institutions to control and regulate advertising, promote responsible behaviour
(responsible puffing of pot,that is), and keep our young informed on the effects
and potential harm these products may have on their growing bodies (which
Mr Husbands is currently doing) things would just play out.
To whose benefit is still much up in the air.
There have even been recent “studies” that show that in states in America
with an established regulatory regime for people to gain legal access to
marijuana, adolescent use rates have either stayed the same, or gone down.
There is not much to boast about the ravenous use of pot remaining the same
legalized as it was when illegal. The harm to body and soul is no less, and
continued usage portends dire consequences down the road.
Transplanting this tragic state of affairs in Barbados you can begin to
understand the pressure that would be put on our national free health system
and on the counselling support programmes like Mr Husbands’.
Keeping marijuana illegal will probably serve Barbados best, as suggested
by Mr Husbands. For one thing, it could dampen enthusiasm for the setting
up of commercial entities free to promote, advertise and market increased
consumption of the drug; free to target children’s minds, if not for early use,
usage when they would come of age –– presumably at 21. Here would be a
targeted audience destined to become addicted –– and devoted
Big business has already taken the pains to establish such a model with
alcohol and tobacco, its survival deeply dependent on addicting our young to
replace the older users who die from tobacco- and alcohol-related diseases
Which brings us to the much hailed view in the Caribbean, even by some
of our leaders, about the economic benefit of legalizing marijuana.
Who will exploit the commercial benefit and make the megabucks
therefrom? A CARICOM conglomerate? Or an American superfranchise
corporation? Or maybe some bunch of self-employed entrepreneurs à la
co-operative credit union?
Mr Husbands surely has a view on that!