Two different perspectives on the current “hot topic” of legalising marijuana from two students of the Alleyne School took the top prizes in the fifth annual Schools Speak Off competition hosted by Cooperators General Insurance.
The eight students in the contest were given a choice of two topics, namely “Should marijuana be legalised?” and “What can we do about violence in schools?”
First place went to Shamaya Jacob, who, despite being nervous throughout the proceedings, gave a good account of herself as she began her presentation on marijuana with an obituary. She described the drug as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” and noted that “constant use can lead to brain damage, heart disease and respiratory disorders. Although it is legal in the Netherlands, in 2012 the Government banned students from smoking it on school compounds because it was affecting their ability to concentrate in class.”
She added that when Colorado legalised the drug, emergency room visits rose by 30 per cent, while in California road deaths increased by 62 per cent, and she called on the Barbados Government to carry out further research on marijuana before going the full route of legalisation.
Her teammate, Janae Marshall, put a positive spin on the drug, noting that when she was younger, she was diagnosed with cancer and her parents took her overseas to receive medical marijuana as part of her treatment, and she fully recovered from her illness.
She noted that “33 states in the United States have legalised it for medical purposes, and it has yielded positive results in terms of controlling symptoms of glaucoma and asthma. Medicinal marijuana does not contain the same chemicals as recreational marijuana, in that it focuses on the cannabinoids rather than the THC.” Marshall added that “if people buy the drug from regulated suppliers the taxes imposed on it will help the Government by bringing in additional revenue. For example, Nevada generated $30 million more in taxes within six months of legalising marijuana, and planting marijuana trees can also benefit the environment.”
Third place winner, Rondela Boyce, a student of the Frederick Smith Secondary School, opened her presentation by noting that Temario Holder, her 16-year-old schoolmate who was stabbed to death two weeks ago, was a friend of hers, and started and ended her presentation by singing John King’s signature song, “How Many More?”
In her view, “Sometimes aggression comes about based on what children see at home, and I believe parents must contact teachers more frequently and there should be more workshops for parents so they can teach their children how to handle peer pressure and resolve conflicts.”
Coleridge and Parry student, Angel Springer, took fourth place, and she also chose to tackle the topic of marijuana. She said, “Musicians and even politicians have promoted marijuana, but I do not believe Barbados is ready to legalise it yet, because there has not been enough research on its effects in children, the dangers it presents to society, and there is a lack of consistent data on its use for medical purposes.”
Other students who took part in the competition included Tya Buntin and Jermessa Khan of the Ellerslie Secondary School, who addressed marijuana and school violence respectively, along with Cadeem Knight of the Princess Margaret Secondary School, who spoke about marijuana and Mawali Knight of the Christ Church Foundation School, who addressed the issue of school violence.