By Richard Harrison: Cannabis, also known as marijuana among other names, is a psychoactive drug from the Cannabis plant intended for medical or recreational use. The main psychoactive part of cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC); one of 483 known compounds in the plant, including at least 65 other cannabinoids. Cannabis can be used by smoking, vaporizing, within food, or as an extract.
Cannabis is often used for its mental and physical effects, such as a “high” or “stoned” feeling, a general change in perception, euphoria (heightened mood), and an increase in appetite. Onset of effects is within minutes when smoked, and about 30 to 60 minutes when cooked and eaten. They last for between two and six hours. Short term side effects may include a decrease in short-term memory, dry mouth, impaired motor skills, red eyes, and feelings of paranoia or anxiety. Long term side effects may include addiction, decreased mental ability in those who started as teenagers, and behavioral problems in children whose mothers used cannabis during pregnancy. Studies have found a strong relation between cannabis use and the risk of psychosis, though the cause-and-effect relationship is debated.
Cannabis is illegal in Belize and so with any activities related to it. Presently, the laws make it illegal to carry weed in any amount. Anyone caught may be imprisoned for up to 3 years or may be imposed with a fine of up to 50,000 Belizean dollars. However, the government said that they are exploring the probability of decriminalizing the possession of marijuana in smaller quantities.
Apparently the Government of Belize plans to change the law this Friday, to make it legal to carry 10 grams or less of marijuana for personal use.
Marijuana, even though currently illegal, is readily available in most places in Belize….rather easy to find and purchase…generally BZ$5 will get you a high grade joint.
DECRIMINALIZATION is just a politically correct term for LEGALIZATION….the easy way to get the ball rolling, by not offending the fence sitters and those who only mildly object.
There are four specific reasons why I think going down this road is wrong for Belize:
1. Marijuana is a much faster onset drug than alcohol….within seconds the effects can be felt…..while alcohol onset takes longer…and the person experimenting can dose themselves to levels that are within their personal range of tolerance. In this sense, at start up…and at maintenance….alcohol is much safer than marijuana….even if the medium and long term effects are similarly destructive to the person, their families and society. Many persons who start off with marijuana are known to progress along a continuum to stronger, more addictive, substances….where drug use merely numbs the persons to deeper problem causes….instead of seeking proper help.
2. Marijuana significantly diminishes short term memory…many terrible things can happen during this lapse of memory….and they do. Worse, the user does not remember….or only remember bits and pieces…and thus is naturally unaccountable to himself and to society. Marijuana users are known to walk into a room for something…and when they get into the room, they have no clue what they went in there for….within that short space of time.
3. The motor skills of a person stoned on marijuana is severely impaired….driving, riding a motorbike, bicycle, boat or jet ski are all activities that are compromised when one is high on marijuana. The trance that marijuana induces in real life takes the persons attention away from what they are doing…and impairs motor skills further than those who are concentrating on taking a motor skills test. The real life and laboratory experiences are worlds apart.
4. Belize has proven that it does not have the capacity and/or will to administer its laws….at this very moment police and government vehicles are moving illegal merchandize, including drugs…not long ago the government wrote a law that should have prevented dark tinted glass on motor vehicles, as a measure to attempt to reduce the crime rate….today most government vehicles, including those of ministers and the police are “black” tinted….not dark tinted.
I speak from a position of experience and theoretical knowledge (BSc Pharmacist)……and hopefully wisdom…..not from a position of ignorance.
The promoters and cheerleaders of this push point to that some states of the USA and Canada have already legalized….and are making a lot of money. They do not point out that the majority of states prefer to sit and wait for the medium to long-term effects are properly investigated, documented and analyzed, before they rush head long based only on the short term cash flow impact.
So it appears that it is this hunger for money that they are using to push their agenda over the hill….because the old arguments of that alcohol is legal and as bad….that cannabis is not addictive….or that it offers many medicinal benefits….those did not work since the 1960’s.
Now they are telling us that we will become rich and wealthy with marijuana….that we will have to pay all our debts….and stock up our hospitals and schools properly….and there will be lots of high paying jobs to go around.
I believed you have heard those arguments several times since Independence….remember when economic citizenship (selling of passports) was to bring all kinds of big investors in factories and all of us would have high paying, stable jobs?
Do you honestly believe that these guys have in mind the hundreds (not thousands) of poor young men who are in jail for a stick of weed? for their criminal record?
Do you honestly believe that a breaker of one law is an upholder of all the other laws, and that crime will be reduced?
The economic and financial gurus of the Government of Belize are showing you clearly….that they have no other solutions for the dire straits of the economy and finances of Belize.
This is the kind of decision that you only make when your back is against the wall….a last resort decision.
It is obvious that with this gang of Alibaba and his 30 thieves….that we have reached that point….our back is against the wall….so lets all get high and “forget about your worries”……sit and watch those “three little birds” make a lot of money, while the rest of Belize dive deeper into poverty…..stoned!
The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Breaking Belize News.
This article was written by Richard Harrison, Belizean investor in production and services businesses in Belize. He holds a Master’s in Business Administration degree from Lancaster University.
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