Pubdate: Mon, 23 Jun 2008
Source: Jamaica Gleaner, The (Jamaica)
Copyright: 2008 The Gleaner Company Limited
Author: Sherry Southe


The Editor, Sir:

HealthDay Reporter, Steven Reinberg recently wrote an article entitled
'Marijuana May Shrink Parts of the Brain'. According to him,
researchers have found that long-term use of the drug can cause
significant brain injury, affect memory and result in early psychotic
symptoms. I believe that the utilisation of nature's gift of marijuana
is a great way to gain some sort of economic stability in Jamaica. It
is my belief that if marijuana was legalised it could help in
providing economic stability in Jamaica. We need to utilise nature's
gifts such as marijuana, cassava, and so forth.

It is common knowledge that Jamaica produces some of the best grade of
marijuana in the region. This will explain the overwhelming demand on
the market for it. I am not writing as a user or a producer of
marijuana; in fact. I do not smoke, and I never will, but one can't
help but notice the overall impact that legalisation would have on our
economy. One can argue that this issue is bigger than the Jamaican
government or the Jamaican people, and we would face many challenges
in regards to its legalisation from countries such as the United
States, England and so forth.

Look at the Bigger Picture

We have to however, look at the bigger picture. Many proponents have
been pushing for years to have this product legalised, but they have
not received the support from many of our leaders that have the
ability to make it happen. It would be interesting to take a survey,
randomly of course, of our leaders in government both at home and
abroad to see how many have ever used this product. I am sure that we
would all be surprised at the results, because they know the benefits
that can be derived from this. We do not need to look far; one name
quickly comes to mind, Bill Clinton, and however he only inhaled.

Economists all over the world have looked analytically at the economic
benefits of marijuana. In an article that was written by Mike Mofatt,
'Time to legalise marijuana?' He noted that over 500 + economists
endorsed the legalisation of marijuana. He spoke about author Milton
Friedman, a proponent for the legalisation of marijuana. He is just
one of many people and groups that have been calling for this.
Freidman joined over 500 economists and sent a letter to the President
of the United States outlining the benefits of legalising marijuana.

One of the things that I find interesting as a Jamaican living abroad,
is the reaction that I get from people when I introduce myself as a
Jamaican to people that are not familiar with our culture. Their
perception most times is that we all smoke marijuana, albeit wrong.

Ready Market for Marijuana

Our reputation precedes us. This goes to show in my opinion that if
marijuana is legalised; there would be a ready market. Alcohol and
cigarettes are sold all over the world and they yield good savings and
generate revenues. The truth of the matter is that some people are
getting rich off this product, and I believe that it should be the
government. The government should capitalise on what our country
produces. I also believe that if people continue to push for the
legalisation it will eventually happen. Think back on Dr Martin Luther
King, he had a dream and based on this dream we may have our very
first black President in the United States. I think that if you
believe in something strongly enough it can be achieved through
patience, perseverance and optimism.

Having attended various cultural activities in Jamaica, it is
impossible to ignore the obvious gratification that most people that
smoke marijuana get, especially the tourist. It was like a mystic
revelation to me as I watched them. I look at all those people,
tourists in general, and I do not see just people smoking. I see the
economical benefits behind the smoke. It is time to regulate and tax
marijuana as a means to help stabilise Jamaica's economy. Making it
illegal is not going to prevent people from purchasing, producing or
selling it. The in-closet mari-juana smokers are the ones that are
most vocal against its legalisation.

Utilise Revenue

Jamaica's government could realise so much revenue from the
legalisation, because marijuana has so many other uses. Venezuela has
oil, the Middle East has oil, Brazil has rice and what do we have in
Jamaica? Marijuana (high grade).

Bottom-line is that the resources that we spend in an attempt to
eradicate marijuana, burning fields, and arresting marijuana farmers
could be better spent fighting crime. There are some that will argue
that the smoking of marijuana is a factor that contributes to crime.
In my opinion, this is not true.

I am, etc., Sherry Southe, New York 
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