Commentary Jamaica Magazine

Marijuana – What is its role in Jamaica’s future?

Written by Sherry Southe

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 utilization 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 legalized it could help in providing economic stability in Jamaica. We need to utilize 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 legalization 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 legalization from countries such as the United States, England and so forth. We have to however, look at the bigger picture. Many proponents have been pushing for years to have this product legalized, but they have not received the support from many of our leaders that has 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 legalize marijuana? He noted that over 500 + Economists endorsed the legalization of marijuana. He spoke about author Milton Friedman, a proponent for the legalization 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 legalizing 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 Jamaica to people that are not familiar with our culture. Their perception most times is that we all smoke Marijuana, albeit wrong. Our reputation precedes us. This goes to show in my opinion that If Marijuana is legalized; 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 of this product, and I believe that it should be the government. The government should capitalize on what our country produces. I also believe that if people continue to push for the legalization 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, especially the tourist. It was like a mystic revelation to me as I watched them. I look at all those people, tourist 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 stabilize Jamaica’s economy. Making it illegal is not going to prevent people from purchasing, producing or selling it. The in-closet marijuana smokers are the ones that are most vocal against its legalization. Jamaica’s government could realize so much revenue from the legalization, 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 crimes. 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.

About the author

Sherry Southe