A prominent local church leader has warned that Barbados must guard against any international pressure to legalize marijuana.
Senator David Durant, one of the latest individuals to give his word on legalizing marijuana in the country, said that while he felt very strongly that the substance should not be legalized, he believed that local authorities and policymakers should not give in to any pressure from international communities to allow Barbadians to use it freely.
He was delivering the feature address at the opening ceremony of Issues In Alcohol Abuse Seminar, hosted by the National Committee For The Prevention Of Alcoholism And Drug Dependency in collaboration with the Barbados Council For The Disabled, this morning at the Barbados Workers Union, Harmony Hall, St Michael.
Senator Durant argued that marijuana’s insidious, addictive properties, deemed it a high-risk substance, especially for school-age youth and that during that critical transitional stage, young people were highly curious and experimental.
“Could we afford the ensuing consequences if recreational marijuana use became legal? At this delicate juncture in our social development, with all the current attendant challenges, can we truly afford the lack of motivation in classrooms, the antisocial and sometimes aggressive behaviour, the associative increase in criminality, impaired memory, infertility, respiratory infections, relational and parental challenges? Can we afford this?
“Our physical bodies are not homogeneously designed; no two are exactly alike. Therefore the impact of marijuana use on different individuals is incalculable,” he said.
The church leader also called for the focus of national policies and strategies to be focussed on helping affected individuals regain control of their lives, as he stressed that the youth, who were particularly vulnerable, must be encouraged to channel their energies towards wholesome activities, in which their talents can be maximized, since self-actualisation was key to the individual trying to recover from drug abuse.
“Let us focus on rehabilitation as opposed to overuse of punishment. We in Barbados are not immune to these disturbing trends. Drug and alcohol abuse is a global epidemic of such proportions that no country is exempted; no race or class has escaped its destructive tentacles.
“Its ubiquitous presence is not only a direct threat to the stability and unity within families, but it is also a siege against the potential and productivity of our human capital, our strongest national resource. Hence, it offers a serious challenge to the overall growth and productivity of our nation.
“As a small-island developing state battling this scourge on our society, we find ourselves up against sophisticated international criminals assisted by a renewed hi-tech world system. What an intimidating combination! The fight has been long and it has been hard, but, nonetheless, we must not quit!
“We must not surrender; we will hold fast to the ideal of a drug-free Barbados,” said Senator Durant.
He stated that in Barbados, there was no empirical evidence in respect of alcohol abuse that could be truly given because breathalyser testing on the island was not yet introduced.
“It’s about time we introduce this testing and save some lives on our roads. Also, irrespective of the country, alcohol abuse still continues to be a major factor in many fatal accidents. In South Africa, it is said that 65 per cent of deaths by vehicular accidents may be attributed to alcohol abuse.
“In the Americas, 80,000 deaths annually are caused by substance abuse,” he added.