With Government seeking to create a thriving medicinal marijuana industry and to allow the Rastafarian community to use it for sacramental purposes, a Member of Parliament is contending that the plant should no longer be referred to as “the devil drug”.
Minister of Youth and Community Empowerment Adrian Forde, a trained pharmacist, said that while in the past marijuana was described as the worst drug in the world, modern science has proven that it has the best therapeutic index (used to compare the therapeutically effective dose to the toxic dose by a pharmaceutical agent) when compared to other drugs.
He explained that a person would be required to smoke 1,500 pounds of marijuana in 15 minutes to get a lethal dose, but also compared the impact with chemicals derived from foods.
Forde said: “Meanwhile, solanine that is extracted from English potatoes.
“If you were to take ten English potatoes and ate all at once you would die from a lethal dose of solanine, as compared to marijuana that you would have to smoke 1 500 pounds.
“And when you look at all the drugs that are psychoactive drugs in Barbados, marijuana is probably the safest drug.
“We are talking about a drug, that is safer than aspirin, an over the counter medicine. Aspirin kills hundreds of people a year.”
Forde said that while there were arguments against the use of the drug, especially as it relates to its negative influence on human behaviour, evidence has showed that in most cases, marijuana was often used with another substance.
Forde also hinted the fact that alcohol is also a psychoactive drug.
“Must I say, that [while] there are cases where persons were using marijuana, when there were further investigations into these cases, you recognise the obvious, marijuana was used in combination with alcohol, combination with other narcotics, and you would hear youngsters talk about the blackies, when [marijuana] is mixed with cocaine.
“When you look at the details, you would recognise that the combination is what caused the problem.”
Forde defended the use of the drug as he made his contribution to the Sacramental Cannabis Bill, debated in Parliament today.
The Minister of Youth said it was high time it was recognised that the Rastafarian community was apart of society and should be allowed to use marijuana for sacramental purposes under controlled legislation.
He argued that the community has not only used the drug for sacramental use, but also for medicinal and other benefits.
Forde said: “The drug marijuana is a safe product. It has a lot of medicinal benefits.
“[Attorney General Dale Marshall] went through a long list of legislation as it relates to how he expects the Rastafarian community to use this product for religious purposes, in the same way that those in the Anglican faith, a faith which I grew up in, the same way they would use the incense in their church, and in the same way other faiths would use other things.”