BFM pastor supports medical, not recreational, marijuana use
While he expressed his support for medical marijuana yesterday, Bahamas Faith Ministries (BFM) International Senior Pastor Dave Burrows said he does not support the decriminalization of the substance and expressed several reasons why its usage is detrimental to the Bahamian society.
“I don’t have an any issue with the medical side of marijuana,” said Burrows said, in an interview with The Nassau Guardian.
“All medicine comes from plants and if a plant can benefit a human who has a medical condition, I would never have any objection to that.
“The only question about it is, sometimes people push for medical marijuana but what they are really saying is ‘I want access to marijuana for recreational use’.
“So, I think there is a difference. I have no problem with medical marijuana if it is medicinal purposes but if not, then I have some objections to it.”
Burrows said when it comes to recreational marijuana, he is concerned that it won’t benefit the country and the people.
He noted that based on studies that he’s read, following legalization in some countries, the level of intoxication increases.
Burrows believes that if the substance is legalized in The Bahamas, the usage will increase.
He also expressed concerns over marijuana induced psychosis and whether higher levels of marijuana use will mean higher numbers of psychosis cases.
“I don’t favor decriminalization even though I favor a reduction in penalties,” Burrows said.
“The reason I don’t favor decriminalization is because I think there should be a deterrent to something that’s detrimental to us. So, I think there should be some barrier or impediment related to marijuana use.
“I don’t think we should encourage mass use because the effects are obvious…understanding that the penalties today are too severe.
“…What I favor is some type of penalty, like a misdemeanor penality, like a traffic ticket, something like that, where you pay a fine but you don’t have a criminal record for life and so on.
“So, I would favor a reduction in the penalties but not elimination of the penalties.”
Speaking to the biblical perspective, Burrows said there are 15 scriptures in the new testament in The Bible that admonishes believers to be sober.
“From a biblical perspective, obviously I don’t think God wants us to be intoxicated because it impairs our judgement,” he said.
“If you do a lot of things high, it makes it much more difficult.”
He added that even though The Bahamas can profit economically through the substance’s legalization, “The social costs right now outweigh the financial benefits and I think we have to look at it from that perspective.”
The CARICOM Regional Commission on Marijuana has recommended the declassification of marijuana as a dangerous drug in all legislation and the reclassification of the drug as a controlled substance in its report presented at the CARICOM heads of government meeting last week.
Among its recommendation, the commission suggested retroactivity to correct past injustices, such as expunging criminal records.
As a preparatory step to rendering marijuana as a legal substance, the commission recommended the decriminalization of the drug for personal use in private premises and medical purposes.
The commission noted that there are legitimate concerns about the legalization of the substance on adverse impacts on health, the youth, increased use and the supposed incapacity of institutional resources.
The report, however, noted that these fears have been assuaged through modern scientific research and the commission is satisfied that they can be appropriately addressed through a responsible framework for law reform.
The commission noted that its observation of law reform in Jamaica reveals that there has not been any discernible increase in use and also no increase in psychosis cases.
When he returned from the 39th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) on Saturday, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said the government will establish a committee to embark on an educational campaign in The Bahamas to gauge public opinion on marijuana.
Burrows said he’s planning a town hall meeting at his church, as well as releasing some of his findings and experiences on the substance and has offered himself to the government for expert advice on the subject.
JUMPLINE: Burrows favors reduced penalties