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No change to drugs laws

7/23/2011

The world is changing rapidly and international attitudes concerning many things have changed. Among the many habits and social mores that have changed in recent years, the attitude towards drug use, and specifically the use of marijuana, has changed significantly. While the official line states that marijuana is a dangerous drug and beliefs of most people coincide with this assessment, the influence of the Rastafarian movement on popular culture, especially in terms of music, has certainly led some of our young people to come to the opposite conclusion. Among a certain section of our population, “weed” is seen as harmless, or even beneficial.

In the wider world, things are much the same. Many people see marijuana as harmless, citing studies that show that the drug seems to do less damage to the human body than its other illegal counterparts, like heroin or cocaine. This, combined with the few instances of proven beneficial use, in cases such as alleviating the pain suffered by terminal cancer patients, has lead some to believe that it is actually a good drug or at least a harmless one, so people should be allowed to partake of it if they wish, like tobacco or alcohol. And just as in our part of the world, the entertainment industry has played its part. Movies, songs and other entertainment media have portrayed marijuana use as harmless, recreational and even amusing.

And this public perception has led to subtle changes in the law, especially in the United States, allowing more and more people to use marijuana without fear of prosecution. The American State of California has led the way in this respect, making marijuana available for medicinal purposes. Other states have followed suit. In doing so, they follow other jurisdictions in Europe which have relaxed their laws as well as their attitudes to marijuana.

As societies become more permissive when it comes to smoking marijuana, it is not surprising that a website devoted to telling its users how to acquire cannabis anywhere in the world should exist. Webehigh.com claims to tell visitors to the site just where and how to get high. Earlier this week, another section of the local press gave details of just what this website said concerning Barbados.

Conflict
Unfortunately, this change of attitude causes conflict when visitors from other lands come to the Caribbean. Thanks to a less than accurate perception of our culture in general, cannabis smoking tourists assume they will find safe haven here. Sadly, if the website is to believed, this perception is not far off. The website advises that weed can be bought from almost any young man in his late teens or early 20. This certainly suggests that some of us have views on marijuana which are more in line with the international view.

Even if some young people of our country believe marijuana to be a harmless recreational drug, there is little likelihood that our Government will make marijuana legal in any fashion. This is because in spite of changing attitudes to the drug, the fact remains that marijuana is a dangerous drug, one which has permanent detrimental effects. It impairs cognitive ability and regular use can cause depression or extreme anxiety; not to mention the fact that it can cause lung cancer. Popular opinion not withstanding, this dangerous drug will remain prohibited.

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