Warning there were different types of marijuana and raising concern about its impact on the fertility of Barbadians, especially males, Leader of Government Business in the Senate, Maxine McClean, called today for research to explore the effects of all marijuana varieties.
She made the call as the Senate began debate on proposed amendments to the Health Services Act, aimed at granting Government control over standards of care and treatment at privately-run drug rehabilitation centres to which the State has been sending, and will continue to send, persons addicted to legal and illegal substances.
An increase in the number of Barbadians being diagnosed as drug addicts, has overloaded public treatment facilities and forced Government to outsource to non-governmental organizations and private businesses.
Explaining that the bill was necessary because “it is clear that Government cannot do it alone,” McClean voiced concern about marijuana use and addiction. She noted that the “damage that is done was not to the individual alone, but to the “immediate family circle, future generations, the community and ultimately to the society to which he or she is a part”.
McClean said education and prevention programmes represented one way of dealing with this growing social challenge. While she offered support for marijuana research elsewhere for medical purposes, she cautioned: “To speak to that and to believe that all marijuana is the same is to mislead oneself and to mislead the world”.
“I believe that as we look at the issue of substance abuse in all its forms . . ., we need to spend a lot of time not only talking about what it can do, but doing the necessary research to demonstrate that within the context of our societies and our region, what are the possible implications,” said McClean, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade in the Freundel Stuart administration.
The Senate leader said while the focus of the debate was on amending the law for the treatment of addicts, there were some related issues which also should be put on the table. “What is the impact from the use of marijuana by persons who may not end up in a treatment centre?” she asked, pointing out that while some users became obvious addicts, others argued that they were functioning fine despite heavy usage.
Further pushing her call for marijuana research, she spoke of reports of damage to the sperm of the marijuana-smoking male.
Noting that much attention was paid to male marijuana use, she also pointed to published information on possible damage to unborn children owing to their mothers smoking weed during pregnancy.
The Senator coupled findings on likely “sperm morphology” on the weed-smoking male and damage to the foetus of the marijuana-smoking pregnant mother, and asked “whether one or both of these things can have implications for future generations?”