Pubdate: Fri, 03 Jun 2005
Source: Jamaica Gleaner, The (Jamaica)
Copyright: 2005 The Gleaner Company Limited
Author: Frederick Hickling
Note: Professor Frederick Hickling is chairman of the National Council on 
Drug Abuse.
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


THIS IS a political issue. This is not a controversial issue. The
issues are very clear ... In some instances, it is very useful (and)
in some instances that I have seen as a physician, it is harmful.

It really doesn't matter whether it is harmful or not harmful or for
us to get into any medical discussion about the nature of its harmful
effect. What we do know is that this particular substance is illegal
and there are many other substances that are used that are much more
harmful than it is that are legal ... It is a contradiction where you
have substances which are much more harmful than anything else in the
world - two, tobacco and alcohol ... Those are legal but this
(cannabis sativa) is illegal.

The reality of the issue is that ... the politics of drug use has been
manipulated by imperialist powers for the last 500 years ... These are
real political issues.

Laws Makes No Sense

But let me get to the crux of the matter in relation to Jamaica. There
is no point having a law if the people don't obey the law. If you have
a law, no matter how draconian it is and there is no moral suasion
from the people for the use of that law, then that law is rubbish.

So in other words, you could establish as many laws about corruption
in this country and have as many draconian sentences, if there is not
an agreement among the people about corruption and how corruption must
be dealt with, then there is no point having that law.

Forty per cent of Jamaican people use cannabis. Whether it is useful
or not useful, that's not the debate. Let's get that out of the
argument. The issue is that it becomes a political legal issue when
you make it illegal, because then you have an instrument of oppression
of the people who use it who are usually the poor people of the country.

Therefore, we need to get a situation of moral suasion in the country
where the people run and control the things that happen in the country
and that dictates the laws.

Schism Between People and Government

There is one final point I want to make. The political structure of
this country in my view has failed to understand and to grasp the
power of the people in this country and that the political parties
have manipulated people's views and ideas for a ballot box vote every
five years ...

The reality of this country is that there are a number of groups of
people (who) are both in opposition to what is happening at the top
level of the country. Until this country recognises the nature of the
schism and the split between the people of the country and the
rulership of the country, we will have these continued debates and
these issues of controversy. There is nothing controversial about herb
(ganja). Herb makes you irie. Hundreds of thousands of people smoke
it. Some people can't smoke it because dem head can't tek it and,
therefore, they mustn't smoke it and it should be in no different
position than alcohol where anybody who drinks alcohol regularly, it
will lick off dem head.
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