Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite is calling on the relevant agencies to bring the hard evidence relating to the impact of both legal and illegal drugs on Barbadian youth.
Speaking this morning at a consultation of national stakeholders for the formulation of a national anti-drug plan for 2017 to 2021, Brathwaite cautioned against jumping on the bandwagon as it pertained to the regulation of recreational drugs.
He contended that at the moment both sides of the recreational drug use argument had only anecdotal evidence specific to Barbados, stressing that without actual statistics, arguments for the institution of the breathalyzer, for example, could be shot down by those wishing for the status quo to remain.
“We need to stop all this anecdotal information and carry out some serious research in terms of the cost to this country for the abuse of legal substances such as alcohol and illegal substances like marijuana. One cannot argue against the breathalyzer test but yet you would hear in some quarters asking where is the evidence that people are getting into accidents because of alcohol consumption. You don’t have any statistics coming from the hospital, you just hear that on Saturday mornings or on bank holidays there seem to be accidents,” Brathwaite told those gathered at the Savannah Beach Hotel in Hastings, Christ Church for the consultation.
He also stressed that the same level of fact gathering was necessary as Barbados contemplated whether or not marijuana use should be legalized.
Referencing the state of Colorado in the United States, as well as Jamaica, he explained that countries which had gone the route of decriminalizing the drug were reporting contrasting social and economic impacts.
“As a country and as minister responsible for the NCSA [National Council on Substance Abuse] ours is not to respond to the most emotive or loudest of voices. Ours is to respond and ensure that whatever decision we make, redounds to the benefit of the majority of the citizens of this country. So if there is a role for medicinal marijuana then let’s examine it and then make that determination.
“However we cannot and should not jump on any bandwagon. The minister of health in Jamaica just last week spoke to the fact that they would need to relook at what has happened in Jamaica because more and more young people are turning up with psychiatric and other issues and they are seeing an upsurge in the use of marijuana. So in his words they have created a significant public health issue. I do not wish that for Barbados,” the Attorney General said.