President of the Barbados Road Safety Association (BRSA) Sharmane Roland-Bowen is issuing a challenge to church leaders to speak out against Government’s plan to build out a medical cannabis industry here.
Government is expected to bring legislation to, among other things, govern the growing and production of medical cannabis that will be regulated by the Ministry of Agriculture.
So far, the Joint Select Committee on the draft Medical Cannabis Bill has held several meetings, with the Opposition demanding clarity on some areas.
Roland-Bowen expressed fear that a medical cannabis industry could lead to an increase in accidents on the roads, insisting that Government would need to bring fresh road traffic laws to accompany such a move.
“So if you are going to come, come clean and come one time and bring legislation that can govern on the roads along with the same legislation that you are going to be bringing,” she said.
At the same time, Roland-Bowen accused the church community of sitting idly by and not advocating against what she said was imminent danger.
“I am calling out the Christians because the Christian community cannot sit down silent. They play an important role in the country and society. They are supposed to sound the alarm when danger is ahead, when danger is coming, and who knows what marijuana can do. Why are they so silent? They should be preaching in their churches. They should be out in the communities advocating and putting up resistance, not lying down,” said the road safety advocate.
“If they fail to do anything or speak out against it the blood of the nation is going to be on their hands. I know of a number of cases and almost everybody knows of a case where persons get involved in drugs . . . and they can’t come back. Not everybody can handle it, and this is what we are going to put our young people through,” she added.
Roland-Bowen also issued a word of caution to residents as Government seeks to implement a medical cannabis industry in Barbados, insisting that there could be devastating impacts on the society.
In fact, Roland-Bowen said she was worried that lives will be ruined, jobs lost, productivity reduced and people becoming crazy.
She argued that while “one or two drugs” have been tested and proven, there was still not enough study on the effect of many of the drugs containing THC – a chemical known as cannabinoid found in cannabis.
“Be vigilant and be cautious. Do not be coerced into taking this medicinal marijuana. Some people might be anxious, but do not allow yourself to become guinea pigs in this experimental stage because up to now a lot of the medications are not approved,” she cautioned.
“We really need to sound the alarm. Our body is the temple of the Lord. So Christians need to speak up and stop being silent,” she insisted, while describing the use of marijuana as “the enemy”.
As for recreational marijuana, a plan that the Mia Mottley administration had indicated would require a national Referendum, Roland-Bowen said she wanted Government to rethink any plan of going that route.
“If they really have the heart of the society, which is the citizens, at hand, they would double-think what they are about to do and even with this medicinal one. Everything they explain is short-term, what is going to happen in the long term when people’s bodies get accustomed to these marijuana products?” she asked.
She said allowing the drug to be used for recreational purposes could be devastating “to a number of poor and vulnerable people”.
“We have seen what drugs can do, even in little Barbados. We have seen a number of persons on our roads who have been impaired or are taken over by marijuana. This, in many instances, leads to the use of harder drugs. So one section in the community might want it for their religious purposes but others are going to abuse it and that is where the worry comes in,” she said.