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By Matthew Thomas

I read with much pleasure and enthusiasm a joint release from the Christian Council of Churches, the Seventh-day Adventists, the Spiritual Baptist and the Evangelical Churches on the on-going marijuana debate as published by iWitness News on Feb. 22.

I support, in total, the sentiments expressed and highlight the following four excerpts from the release:

  1. “Our primary concern relates to the social impact and the related costs to our national wellbeing and development. We are mindful of the view that we are not managing alcohol and its impact on our youth. How much more can we manage possible increased access to marijuana?”
  2. “However, as good and beneficial as medicinal marijuana may appear to be, we believe of themselves, they do not constitute sufficient argument for the legalization of marijuana in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”
  3. “The impact of marijuana on our youth, heavily contributing to antisocial behaviours and mental illness.”
  4. “We cannot ignore the fact that many persons in St. Vincent and the Grenadines that have turned to hard drugs had their first narcotic encounter with marijuana.”

As a practicing pharmacist of 41 years experience, a classroom teacher for 14 years — both at the primary and post-primary level, a social commentator and political activist for over 30 years, it is my opinion that the worst thing to have happened to the Caribbean black man, since the scars of slavery, is the inculcation of the marijuana culture. As we are all aware over the past 50 years, the crime rate in every CARICOM country without exemption has risen. For the first 60 days in the year, Jamaica has recorded 204 murders. We know too well that the production, trafficking/trading and consumption of marijuana is synonymous with gun-related crimes.

Marijuana Culture Has No Boundaries

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An excerpt from the Jamaica Gleaner of Jan., 5, 2007 under the heading: KILLED OVER GANJA – FEUDING SONS OF HIGH – SOCIETY OFFICIALS: wrote: “An argument over ganja has left the son of Supreme Court Judge Lenox Campbell dead and the son of Principal of the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus, facing a charge for murder. Rodney Beckles, 21, is now in police custody after stabbing to death Kahalil Campbell 28 of Daisy Ave, St. Andrew.”

The CARICOM Marijuana Commission on its website, in a publication on Mar 27, 2017, under the heading; GANJA BABIES: wrote:

“More and more children, reportedly seeking assistance at the public medical facilities for ganja related illness in Jamaica since the weed was decriminalised in 2015; is causing worry for local health officials.

“With 70% of the population having easy access to ganja and the law making possession of up to two ounces no longer a criminal offence, children – smoke; as young as 12 years old have been trying the weed in its many different forms.

“Health Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton, last week told the Sunday Gleaner that he was very unhappy with the findings. ‘The drug treatment programme at the Ministry primarily for persons affected by marijuana usage and in particular since the decriminalisation of two ounces or less, has shown a 50% increase in persons — young people, school children, adolescents — which raises a lot of concern for us.’”

We Do Not Have To Reinvent The Wheel

We do not have to reinvent the wheel. Other people’s experiences could be as good as ours. The pharmacognosy, chemistry and pharmacology of marijuana have been known for years. Incidentally, our own Vincentian born doctor, Albert Lockhart is a pioneer among others in Jamaica in producing canasol, an eye drop for glaucoma and asmasol for asthmatics both from ganja. T GEEDES GRANT was the agent for canasol in St. Vincent. It was legally prescribed and sold in pharmacies here in St. Vincent since the 80s. It is not known that Dr. Lockhart is a billionaire.

Try as you may, it’s unlikely that marijuana will ever come close to, far less to replace morphine and its analogues as an analgesic, cough suppressant and anti-diarrheal. They are used legitimately the world over in the practice of medicine. The poppy plant from which morphine is produced is grown predominantly in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. In spite of all that wealth that is generated annually from poppy, the areas in which it is predominantly grown are among the poorest and most deprived and or depraved communities in the world.

I applaud the CHURCHES for their level of forthrightness and their guidance on the subject. When one listens to the level of debate that comes from both major political parties, the ULP and the NDP, it is obviously no wonder that St. Vincent and the Grenadines has found itself in its present state of quagmire. Discipline can no longer be taught. Alcohol, tobacco and ganja are not a must. To the average Vincentian, ganja means it’s psychoactive effects. As the Christians would say, “Jesus has rolled my burdens in the sea”. Our political leaders are saying to our youth: Don’t worry; take a spliff (marijuana cigarette), sit on the block “badden your head” and your burdens will surely be rolled away. Unfortunately though, their burdens are invariably rolled into the jail, mental hospital or the cemetery.

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected]

The opinions presented in this content belong to the author and may not necessarily reflect the perspectives or editorial stance of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

16 replies on “Churches concerned about gov’t approach to the medical weed: a response”

  1. This piece have political motives all over it and furthermore the three reasons giving are totally and arguably incorrect. Bush of rubbish

    1. Well my good fellow, why not give your analysis than being to critical without a reason. I see nothing political about this. The article basically touch on the views of the churches and historic overview of marijuana use throughout the region, or am I reading a different article than you?

      1. Obviously you don’t understand the moral of my comment. It actually doesn’t have anything to do with the writer but more so the publisher lol

  2. Dontliveinfear says:

    If the “churches” were petitioning to make alcohol and other prescription drugs illegal then I would care about their opinion on marijuana. The ILLEGALmarijuana industry fosters a violent culture that is trapping our young people into a cycle of crime.

  3. Precautionary Measures says:

    It is strange you never hear the churches speaking on church related flaws eg. intercourse with members(under-aged),and Missing Financial assets… could continue on and on but thats not the point i see this venture as a mass employment opportunity and an equalization process too many people are home with nothing to do only to fall victim to the thoughts inspired by the devil to commit crimes and do negative things to get revenue…name one person that the Cannabis plant have killed??!!…………..! its all these laws and and regulations that are bringing about the complications present ….this industry will aid in the employment of youths and the increase of tourists,with the right regulations and policies the St.Vincent and the Grenadines Cannabis industry will flourish exceedingly.

  4. D church, need to focus on their god and Christ, stay out of the practice of medicines, it’s not your place of warship or worship.

  5. Well, Bob Marley, Bob Dylan, The Beatles. Tupac Shakur. They all smoked marijuana. And they were brilliant.

  6. C. ben-David says:

    Full of “false news,” mindless conjecture, self-serving, inflammatory rhetoric, a conflation of issues, and ignorance of the scientific literature.

    1. In SVG, we are talking about medical marijuana, not recreational marijuana. Legalizing the former for export production only, using tight production control (such as highly protected greenhouses) would address all your concerns.

    2. Using the words “Alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana” in the same sentence deliberately conflates two very dangerous and lethal substances that kill tens of thousands of people around the world every year with a relatively harmless substance that has no lethal dosage should be beyond the pale for a licensed pharmacist.

    3. As a licensed pill pusher of legal and addictive drugs that kill thousands of people around the world every year through either overdose or dangerous side effects, your remarks, like those of the drug companies who supply you, are self-serving rhetoric meant to protect your profits and markets from competition from other forms of tradition and natural medication and treatment.

    4. To opine that, “the worst thing to have happened to the Caribbean black man, since the scars of slavery, is the inculcation of the marijuana culture” is to show a profound ignorance of the effects of a plant that has been safely used by humankind for over 5,000 years, having been outlawed mainly in the last 100 years because of mindless pressure from reactionaries like you.

    5. To suggest that highly addictive, dangerous, and lethal drugs – opium, morphine, and heroin – all derived from the poppy plant are preferable to marijuana again reveals your profound ignorance of the effects of marijuana use.

    6. The mental sequelae of marijuana use are still being researched. It may well turn out that there are adverse effects on a growing brain and maturing personality. Accordingly, I would not be opposed to restricting its use to adults over the age of 20.

    But you grossly exaggerate the possible mental health effects, on the one hand, while reversing the causality, on the other. Persons with certain pre-existing mental conditions will be tempted to use ganja to control or reverse them. Some will find relief while others may find a worsening of these conditions. But normal persons using moderate amounts of marijuana – the vast majority of users around the world – do not experience anything approached the long debunked “cannabis psychosis,” partly because weed is not a physically addictive substance.

    7. According to your specious reasoning, we should also ban tobacco, alcohol, and many prescription drugs which kills tens of thousands of people every year.

    And while we’re at it we should also ban many non-prescription drugs whose overuse or overdose can be lethal, including aspirin, long known to be a dangerous drug that kills 20,000 people a year (;; ) while marijuana, by itself, kills none since it is impossible to take a lethal overdose by smoking because you would fall asleep first.

    8. But your most egregious error is to equate marijuana use with murder and other crimes. Marijuana does not kill people; what kills them is the criminality associated with its interdicton. All of these adverse criminal effects would disappear overnight if cannabis production, distribution, and consumption were decriminalized, as occurred overnight when the foolish prohibition on alcohol in the United States was ended in 1933.


    So, go back to pushing your legal but life-threatening drugs, if you wish. But please don’t tell the rest of us not to make an informed and enlightened choice, based on our God-given free will, of what to ingest into our bodies so long as this does not interfere with the rights of others.

    1. Rafael Stefania says:

      C Ben- David, You are truly pissed off about almost everything anybody says but that now you have used a code word for Atheism; Enlightened, I am beginning to understand why? Carpe lux, GM.

      1. C. ben-David says:

        Unfortunately the 18th century Age of Enlightenment, also know as the Age of Reason, bypassed Matthew Thomas, even though as an alleged practitioner of pharmacy, rooted in pharmacolgy, he could not escape his pre-Enlightenment alchemist roots when it comes to cannabis, or maybe not since the widespread use of marijuana preceeds the Enlightenment by thousands of years.

        At any rate, this pull pusher maintains a pre-scientific aversion to ganja that even our “unenlighted” Voodoo alchemist African witch doctors would have rejected on proven pragmatic grounds.

  7. Rafael Stefania says:

    I now see what motivates your passion and displeasure. it is from the genuine ignorance that you probably see happening around the place and frustration with the lack of scientific basis of the many instances of disinformation that is featured here. Why not start your own magazine or website, you will get people to listen to your views. Not everyone will agree with you but then everyone is entitled to their opinion. You write like a journalist while the editors here writes very academic but then without the references. Like an attempt at a high school essay.

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