Don’t even think about it.
That is the warning the National Committee for the Prevention of Alcoholism and Drug Dependency (NCPADD) is issuing to Barbadians regarding the legalization of marijuana here.
President of NCPADD, Victor Roach, issued this warning in light of the news that the state of Colorado recently legalized the drug for recreational use for people age 21 and over. Uruguay has also legalized the plant for recreational use and the state of Washington is expected to follow later this year.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY Roach said he would continue to advocate against the use of the drug, adding that he anticipated a renewed call for marijuana to be legalized in Barbados given the latest developments in the United States.
“You know that whatever happens in the United States of America has the potential to excite the Caribbean and lead the community,” said Roach.
“The message to the people first of all and those who are licking their chops anticipating that the legalization of marijuana will come to Barbados, they need to put the brakes on and understand that Washington is Washington and Colorado is Colorado and importantly so, Barbados is Barbados,” added Roach.
Singling out the tourism industry, Roach said officials here should “make it urgently clear” to visitors that the legalization of the drug for recreational use in the US was a situation that related to particular states and there was no change on the position in Barbados.
“In the meantime”, he said he anticipated that Barbados might need special treatment services to assist “an increas[ing] section of the population who might, like alcohol, go overboard with the marijuana use”.
He said legalizing the drug could mean an increase in the number of people who would require treatment, and while that meant more “opportunities” for treatment centers and groups to help, it was not a move he welcomed.
Adding that it was estimated that between ten and 15 per cent of people who used marijuana encountered “problems” with it, Roach said legalizing the drug could lead to more social ills.
The advocate against the use of illegal drugs also called on the authorities here to “speed up” the introduction of the drug treatment courts, saying the recession or any financial problems should not stand in the way of its implementation.
“There must be no divide on its introduction. All parties, political and otherwise, should come on board. We would also like to make sure there is no financial impediment . . . . Whatever the situation we want to be strong in our resolve to provide treatment for those who need it and that it will help to serve and make Barbados a better place,” said Roach.
He believed deciding whether or not to legalize the drug could pose “a challenge” for some CARICOM member states, adding that a leader of one Eastern Caribbean state had already indicated he would “look at” the possibility of legalizing it. (MM)