Medical community divided on marijuana legalization

As debate continues in the Caribbean over the decriminalization of marijuana, at least one local practitioner in the field of mental health believes the issue may prove divisive in the medical fraternity.

During a discussion on Exploring Suicide in Barbados at the Cave Hill Wesleyan Holiness Church, Queen’s Counsel Ralph Thorne noted that the laws regarding marijuana were shifting more responsibility to doctors, and it was becoming a medical issue rather than a legal one.

In response to a query from Thorne about the stance local doctors would take, Senior Registrar in the Department of Psychiatry at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) Dr Tonya Holder said she believed there would be differing opinions among mental health specialists and those dealing with internal medicine.

She pointed out that arguments in favour of decriminalizing marijuana were similar to those raised when alcohol was illegal many years ago.

“The legal end looked at the burden on the legal system, the burden on the prison, and the costs to the country for having people in prison and having to care for them over a small offence. But for doctors in psychiatry, early cannabis use leads to early onset schizophrenia, more mental health issues, and an increase in substance abuse in general, which can lead to forensic cases, disinhibition, and we can see suicide attempts increasing as well,” Dr Holder said.

“However, internal medicine doctors may want to look at medicinal marijuana and what they see as positives, such as extracting a few cannabinoids from the plant and using them to treat glaucoma, and to assist in pain management with cancer. So, you will get mixed answers to this for sure, but from a psychiatrist’s end my answer would be ‘no.’”

In recent years, Jamaica and several states in the United States of America have decriminalized marijuana and have sanctioned it for medicinal use.

A number of other Caribbean countries are still unsure whether they will follow suit.

13 Responses to Medical community divided on marijuana legalization

  1. Ras Unjay
    Ras Unjay May 3, 2017 at 11:13 pm

    De white boys who nade the law of legal and illegal laughing at these black jackasses

    • Jasper Stone
      Jasper Stone May 4, 2017 at 5:29 am

      True were still in mental slavery and refuse to break free but what choice do we have cause things are desperate we need a different approach on so many issues

  2. Angus Benn
    Angus Benn May 4, 2017 at 2:45 am

    When God created the world if all these ignorant people was their. They will be telling God the same thing. Marijuana don’t do no one nothing. We must remember that every one of us brain ,is not the same. Some people could smoke marijuana every day and nothing will happen to them. Another man smoke one spliff and his head gone wild. Alcohol is the same thing. I think that marijuana should be legalized. You will have less crime. The police and the coast Guard will not be out on the sea all the time. Government don’t have to spend so much money feeding prisoners in jail. All those plantation that is catching grass could be planting marijuana to export to Europe. Instead of America and Canada exporting marijuana to Barbados. We should be exporting marijuana to them. We leathers in the Caribbean Blind. Most of them are lawyers. They will never want marijuana to be legalizing. That is how some of them getting rich from marijuana.

  3. Angus Benn
    Angus Benn May 4, 2017 at 2:52 am

    The white man have black people trick for years. And he still tricking them. Which Caribbean country would be the first one to legalized marijuana. A white will have to come from America Canada or Europe to tell us to legalized marijuana. Scientists get paid to tell lies on marijuana for years. But is one thing I know is that God didn’t make nothing in this world bad. That is my belief.

  4. Kay Critchlow
    Kay Critchlow May 4, 2017 at 3:44 am

    Problem is if marijuana is legalised then the fun gone so the youth going to move on to harder drugs . It’s an age old thing that people want what they not to have or can’t have .

  5. Jasper Stone
    Jasper Stone May 4, 2017 at 5:25 am

    If alcohol is legal then marijuana should with out a question of doubt be legal also.Weed was legal until White Christians came along and made it illegal. Isn’t Barbados looking for ways to pull in more tourism dollars,the entire Caribbean should put their heads together and legalize marijuana to boost the sluggish economy in the region. Hemp is also very diverse and can be made to make so many products. Come on black folks were still in the shadows of colonialism and need to break free of the mental bondage we remain in

  6. sam clarke May 4, 2017 at 6:59 am

    It is time to legalize ganja in Barbados and lets be real. The medical component is one factor, and the major factor is the destroying of young lives with criminal records, while using the courts as a means as a revenue source for the government must stop.

  7. Carlisle Norville May 4, 2017 at 8:14 am

    I dont smoke now, but when i was a young man I met this american white man, I was discussing with him that i was studying cermercial art & bennet colledge in england via correspondavce course i told him the exam was getting tough( he told me all i have to do is get what is called a roach the piece left back after you smoke the lady jane )( he said hold it between 2 match sticks light it then out it & breath in the smoke I did as he suggested & got a pleasant surprise after inhaling the smoke which burn a bit in my nostrils on releasing the smoke I suddenly realize that my ability to concentrate was so enhanced my focus was one pointed & i flew through those exams papers that’s the good side I notice that people who smoke de big spliffs after some months they get all paranoid & there is a psychological change with their minds if used in a sensible way you can derive benefits

  8. jay May 4, 2017 at 9:12 am

    So tired of this psedu science as passing as legit in Bim. No body ever publically calls them out. Dr. Tonya Holder just uttered a bunch of rubbish and misinformation and passed it off as fact. Barbados Today has to do a much better job of fact checking some of these people. Sometimes all it takes is a quick google search, The world wide medical community does not conclude that weed causes mental issues, that is not a fact, it is a theory which many top medical professionals dispute, and has never been proven.The argument that weed is a gateway drug is an argument based on correlation research which nobody takes seriously. This is all based on what “she believes” not medical fact. Furthermore, an increase in suicides?? Weed makes you happy and relaxed, we need to get rid of this outdated thinking. We are going to wait till every other country in the world legalizes, just to make sure we miss out on every possible opportunity to save our nation. Someone get these people from behind the steering wheel.

    • Baha-baje May 4, 2017 at 11:27 am

      Why are you personally attacking the Doctor ? She has given a balanced account of the differing views within the medical community. Her final assessment given the available data is well -founded. It is very disappointing when people (“jay”)with alternate agenda entering a scientific debate with mudslinging and spewing excretement.

  9. david gibbs May 4, 2017 at 10:10 am

    We really have to strop trying to romanticize marijuana smoking. The best thing anyone can do with marihuana is to keep far from it. You go to any psychiatric hospital anywhere in the world and you will see the affects of marijuana smoking. I challenge anyone to point to any psychiatric hospital anywhere in the world where the psychiatrists don’t identify marijuana smoking as a major factor in mental health problems. Smoking in itself is bad period – whether marijuana or tobacco etc. Now media marijuana is a slight different issue because that is tested and researched by trained scientist and any elements of the marijuana plant that may have benefits are extracted, isolated and placed under laboratory testing. Both the benefits and the negative side effects (there are ALWYS side effects al though the Rastafarian community will want to deny this) are carefully identified. So I have no problem with medical marijuana as long as it is robustly and rigorously tested as other drugs etc. The argument that alcohol is legal so marijuana should also be legal is a false comparison. What we need is LESS not more recreational drugs. Maybe it is unfair that the producers of alcohol have been able to get their product decriminalize while the marijuana growers have not. But the issue is that our community will not benefit from having a greater variety and quantity of recreational drugs available. An while we are at it we have to stop with this folly that marijuana is a cure for almost any and every aliment, from glaucoma to cancer to epilepsy and back. Whatever medical benefits it may have it is no magic drug. It may well happen that one day it is legalized or decriminalized. Even if that occurs the best approach is still to keep far from it. Sound research has already told us how to live a healthy lifestyle – and it doesn’t include marijuana smoking.

  10. Jeff Reiss May 4, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    Are we going to ask “the medical community” for permission to engage in football, boxing or any other contact sport all of which can cause brain damage?

  11. allison archer May 4, 2017 at 7:45 pm

    since mankind wants no law to provide restraint with the more voices heard laws will be abolish why not then give the people what they ask for
    remove laws providing for the pedophiles, those who claim born to have sex with animals, how about those who were born with the desire for cannibalism, stealing, raping, murdering, inflicting body harm
    oh how about those who has inherited a great desire from their parents to do whatsoever is pleasing to the eye, how about that great Barbados every man doing what is right in his own eyes without prohibition


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