Why is marijuana an illegal substance? According to the scriptures, God created herbs and proclaimed His Creation good. The scriptures also teach that herbs are for medicinal purposes. Medical researchers have actually found medicinal uses for various herbs, including marijuana, and persons have attested to the curative qualities of this plant. So why is it illegal?
To justify its illegal status, those in favour of marijuana remaining illegal note the reported negative effects of smoking marijuana, which include addiction, short-term memory loss, and lung cancer. These effects reportedly lead to the smokers neglecting their responsibilities, and engaging in criminal activity if they do not have the income to support their addiction. Those who smoke marijuana report that it gives them momentary pleasure.
In North America, some youths derive pleasure from inhaling toxic paint and glue fumes. The paint and glue are useful substances, but they have become harmful to the misguided youths who abuse these substances’ normal uses. Similarly, the marijuana plant is good and has medicinal benefits when ingested; however it is harmful to the individual when inhaled. Therefore the problem arises when persons decide to smoke this medicinal plant and therefore abuse its normal use.
While abusing marijuana is harmful to the individual, it is also costly to the nation who must bear the cost of: patient care when they become sick, rehabilitation when they want to change, law enforcement when they behave irresponsibly, and incarceration when they are convicted. The nation must also bear the cost of their general loss of productivity, and the inefficient use of educational resources since their learning is negatively affected.
But is keeping marijuana illegal the answer to these social problems? The costs to the individual and nation are just as severe from those who sniff paint and glue fumes, as they are from those who smoke marijuana. However it would seem ridiculous to make paint and glue illegal. Similarly, just because some misguided persons abuse marijuana and engage in irresponsible behaviour should not disqualify the rest of mankind from benefiting from this God given natural cure. Misguided persons may try to find ways of abusing the normal uses of various substances, however it would not benefit any nation to react by simply making such substances illegal.
How many have had to suffer needlessly just because the treatment to their ailment was illegal, for no other reason than irresponsible persons abusing the use of a curative plant? A balance should therefore be found and the following course of action is recommended.
1. Educate our children about the lunacy of smoking medicine, or taking medicine when they are not sick, regardless of the pleasure that it may bring. Discussions should also be held with the Rastafarian community, with a view to having them re-examine their religious stance on smoking marijuana. Smoking is an unhealthy and addictive practise, which is at variance with their reportedly healthy lifestyle.
2. Restrict the planting, harvesting and dispensing of marijuana to herbalists who are approved by the Caribbean Association of Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CACAM) and licensed by the Ministry of Health. Treatment should only be available at the licensed office of a herbalist who should follow strict protocols for its use. These protocols should be published by CACAM and based on published peer reviewed scientific research.
3. Any unlicensed person found with any quantity of marijuana should be fined heavily and made to perform many months of community service. Also, any herbalist misusing the treatment or not following the approved protocols should be fined heavily, incarcerated, and have their licence permanently revoked.
In conclusion, the possession of marijuana should remain illegal to all but licensed herbalists and their patients. This should allow all persons to benefit from this God given natural cure for a host of ailments, without the negative social effects.