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The courage to accept likely error

We just have to have the courage to accept that there is information
out there that can help us . . . . Think of where we could have been, had
we allowed ourselves to open our minds and expand what we thought
we knew . . . .

–– Senator Verla De Peiza appealing for an open mind
on the decriminalization of marijuana use.


It is instructive that Senator De Peiza in her campaign for the controlled use of marijuana, because of the usefulness to society which she perceives in it, speaks as a criminologist. Not as a Democratic Labour Party member and Government Senator, or representative of the administration. Not as a politician. Not as a devout Seventh-Day Adventist, which the criminal lawyer insists she is.

Senator De Peiza deigns to speak “exclusively” as a criminologist –– as if this sunders and isolates the personage from the several other roles played.

The blunt fact is Verla De Peiza has expressed her resolve to continue fighting to see marijuana become a legal product in Barbados.

“There has got to be someone who stands up and says we need to really open our minds and open the discussion. And I don’t [have] any difficulty leading off . . . . I have waited long years for the discussion to actually be tabled, and now it is, I’m going to run with it,” said the marijuana advocate at a panel debate this week, organized, of all people, by the folks at the National Council For The Prevention Of Alcoholism And Drug Dependency –– who are diametrically opposed to pot use.

Arguing that Barbadian society must get to the point of separating the terms “use” and “abuse”, Senator De Peiza stressed that limitations could be placed on the manner marijuana was produced and applied.

On an opposite path to that of her Government, which has already declared that there will not be any legalizing of marijuana use any time soon, the senator has expressed the view that for a long time now she believed Barbados should have been exploiting the benefits of marijuana –– which for Ms De Peiza include medicinal relief and healing.

“Research from all the way back in the 1970s” is a foundation for the senator’s affirmed position, which was bolstered by further information she came across on marijuana’s “useful properties” in the 1990s when researching for an academic paper. And, by confession, she has become a “believer”.

The irony is, that for all the imposing knowledge of marijuana use and benefits attorney-at-law Senator De Peiza has accumulated, there are practising medical doctors prescribing the drug elsewhere who are lesser impressed and not as confident.

In Canada, for example, the Canadian Medical Association is worried that more patients (from fewer than 500 in 2001 to 30,000 plus to date) have been clamouring for a drug –– marijuana, to be exact –– which many doctors are uncomfortable prescribing.

The federal government department Health Canada has just given physicians permission to merely say they think it is okay for a specific patient to use marijuana –– outside of the usual doctor’s prescription stating an exact amount of drug to be taken at exact times for an exact period. And, the Canadian Medical Association president Dr Louis Francescutti is not amused.

For all the pot “research” there has been, there is still the challenge of acquiring standardized medications from different marijuana plant varieties for specific ailments, like pain, nausea or insomnia –– which could really be more safely treated with already proven medications.

Dr Francescutti’s unease is that Canadian doctors are being asked “to prescribe a product that really has not been tested as rigorously as any other” –– to basically write prescriptions blindfold, “assuming all the risks that
go with it”.

This disquietude in a society whose government boasts “quality-controlled marijuana for medical purposes, produced under secure and
sanitary conditions”.

Swears Dr Francescutti: “I can tell you, as an emergency physician, I will not be prescribing any marijuana, simply because I don’t feel safe that I know exactly what I’m prescribing.”

Senator De Peiza has admitted that politicians must “recognize we’re representing people; therefore we have to be able to focus on what the people want, instead of telling what they ought to have”. Did the people of Barbados tell her they want marijuana legalized for medical use or otherwise?

We think this is at the point the goodly senator ceases to be a politician, and morphs into the criminologist –– of convenience!

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