Students at Queen’s College got the opportunity to have their say on the legalization of marijuana when the school held its inaugural debate today.
The Queens College Debating and Literary Society presented the topic, Marijuana Should be Legalized in Barbados, in a commendable and informative debate, sponsored by the Queen’s College Association (QCA).
The debate, held to coincide with QCA’s week of activities was a close one and ended on a high note for the proposers who won by 84 points to 79.
Proponent Nia Marshall contended that marijuana use should be legalized here, charting a course between its current status, which is prohibition and its legalization.
She argued that given the developments on marijuana and its various uses, decriminalization had become a mid-way step between prohibition and legalization as legislators became more aware of the studies, science and benefits of an enlightened approach to ganja.
Marshall said that already marijuana-use was a normal thing in Barbados and the Caribbean to the point that it tells its own story.
“There is a strong and consistent demand for marijuana, and due to prohibition, an unregulated black market brings consumers of marijuana into direct contact with sellers of other illicit drugs.
“The riches available in the black markets increase the risk of serious corruption and violent crime. From the vantage point of public policy, marijuana prohibition and the black market it spawns, produces high fiscal cost to police. The social costs are also quite substantial,” Marshall said.
Meanwhile, taking the stance that marijuana should remain illegal, Khaleel Kothdiwala argued that the drug was a gateway to addiction, crime and health problems as it introduces multiple toxic chemicals into the user’s body. He said the effects of many of these toxins were unknown.
Quoting the American Lung Association, Kothdiwala contended that marijuana contains 33 chemicals that are known to cause cancer, and due to the lack of filters on joints, deposits four times as much tar into the lungs as an equal amount of tobacco.
“My opponents will probably argue that legalizing marijuana will bring financial gain to Barbados as the Government would regulate it and taxes would be added. But actually, it would be a futile effort because the money that is made will have to be put into healthcare, social services to deal with the heath problems, both physical and psychological and the social ills that accompany it,” he said.
Kothdiwala also argued that if marijuana were legalized here it would adversely affect education, injuries and deaths from impaired driving would increase and accident liability and insurance rates for employers would increase.
“I have mentioned the negative influence it has had on the U.S. Do we really want that to happen to our still developing nation? Do we want to become a nation of unproductive, uneducated, unhealthy junkies? I would think not.
“Our brave forefathers fought to get Barbados where it is today. Do we really want to say to them, ‘well thanks, no thanks? I hope common sense will prevail. For the reasons listed above, we believe that marijuana should not be legalized in Barbados. I rest my case,” the opposer said.
Other team members included Brittany Williams and John Hunte who were on the proposition side. Brandon Boras and Destini Watson also represented the opposition.