Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019
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The misunderstanding of cannabis

Dear Editor,

Let us not forget that the legal battle that the Bobo Ashanti has put against the Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas has been overcome in other Commonwealth jurisdictions.

In 1997, Dr. Dennis Forsythe, described in Forsythe v. Director of Public Prosecutions and Attorney General (1997 34 J.L.R. 512), as a sociologist, holist, author, Rastafarian and attorney-at-law, petitioned the Jamaican Supreme (High) Court for a declaration that his rights to freedom of conscience and freedom of religion had been infringed by the Dangerous Drugs Act.

Although that case was earlier rejected by the bench, Justice Minister Mark Golding asserted later on that the Dangerous Drugs Act could no longer withstand a constitutional challenge under Jamaica’s Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms. Cannabis then was decriminalized according to Jamaican law, and the Rastafarian faith was given special exemption to cultivate, possess and utilize the plant. As a fellow Commonwealth nation, The Bahamas inevitably will follow suit.

Legal precedent aside, The Bahamas also should and must strongly reject the propagandized reasoning behind cannabis being placed on the global Schedule I listing of dangerous drugs. Many of the arguments against the decriminalization of cannabis are based on decades of misinformation. The inherent threat to multiple long-standing industrial sectors, including the oil, cotton, plastics, wood/paper, food and pharmaceutical industries also plays a significant role in continued prohibition globally.

The tragedy is that most persons who stand against cannabis are not even aware that the plant genus is a sustainable, renewable and safe alternative in each of the aforementioned industries. It is also arguable that those persons who are against cannabis are not aware of the fact that the imposed illegality of cannabis in the 1930s was spurred on by racial bias. Racial bias, which was used as a means to shift support in prohibition’s favor – e.g., the term marijuana was coined specifically as part of that campaign. Such trends still continue to this very day as the majority of those incarcerated for cannabis are persons of color.

It is commonly observed that opponents to cannabis decriminalization tend to target the psychoactive effects of cannabis and often declare that cannabis needs to be controlled like alcohol. This false comparison of the effects of cannabis and the intoxication of alcohol needs to be eliminated. Alcohol’s effects are proven to be damaging to the human body, especially the brain and the liver, where cells are destroyed by alcohol. Cannabis, on the other hand, repairs the human body due to its inherent compatibility with the human endocannabinoid system.

Cannabis’ effects on the brain have even been shown scientifically to increase brain cell and neuron activity. Further to this, it is unfortunate that a surprising number of individuals within the medical community continue to play into the medicinal versus recreational categorization of cannabis. It is a fact that all usage of the plant in its pure form is medicinal, whether the individual ingesting it in whatever form realizes this or not.

With the advent of the modern human diet, it can be deduced that a reasonable percentage of the population does suffer from what can be termed as an endocannabinoid deficiency – hence, the growing health crisis in developed nations. Cannabis is a viable solution to this health crisis through the availability of cannabis flour, seeds, oils and other nutrient-based usages.

It has been said before and must be said again: Cannabis in its pure forms can heal, clothe, feed, shelter and provide energy for the people of this region and the world. It is time for those who declare independence to truly exhibit said independence. Our nations cannot continue the persecution and incarceration of our people for a plant that can and will reset our internal economies through multiple industries, and make our nations effectively self-sustainable as a result.

The monarch of the system that this nation of The Bahamas still pledges loyalty to once bowed in respect and reverence to the knowledge and wisdom of our people. Armed with the knowledge and wisdom of how we can improve our society on multiple fronts, let us stand and fully reclaim our global economic sovereignty and power through cannabis.

– Yorick R. Brown


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