Cannabis Barbados implores political parties toying with the issue of cannabis legalization to do their research on the plant. In a recent article published on the 23rd April in the Nation newspaper, newly formed political party Solutions Barbados said “some youth are attracted to marijuana for the simple reason that it is illegal. However, if it is legalized, then they will likely find something else to differentiate themselves from the normal crowd. In the US, where states legalized marijuana for recreational use, the youth turned to brain-altering drugs, and deaths from overdosing on opioids increased significantly.”
Cannabis Barbados continues to urge persons presenting information on cannabis to use researched factual evidence, and not try to misguide the public with biased non- researched information. While stating, “Solutions Barbados policies will significantly benefit the youth of Barbados. However, while we plan to allow non-addictive extracts to be prescribed by doctors for medicinal uses, recreational use of marijuana is another question?” It is clear to Cannabis Barbados that this political gimmick by Solutions Barbados is not in the interest of the youth as they claim, and that the information on the social effects of legalizing cannabis on the youth are erroneous and clearly shows that this party is not in touch or in tune with the youth of Barbados.
Let us look at some actual research from leading universities in the United States of America on the cannabis legalization and its effects on youth.
- Liberalized marijuana laws appear to have little positive or negative impact, according to a new working paperby researchers from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Harvard University and Western Carolina University. In fact, more liberal marijuana laws have had “minimal impact” on marijuana use, other substance use, alcohol consumption or crime rates, the study found. The paper, which was distributed by the National Bureau of Economic Research, based its findings on data from the annual surveys of high-school seniors conducted by Monitoring the Future, an ongoing study of American youth that began in 1975.
- Since 1996, 23 US states and the District of Columbia (DC) have approved the medicinal use of cannabis. In the states of Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon and DC, recreational use is also legal. These moves towards permissiveness, even where possession of the drug is restricted to medical use, have caused many critics to worry that cannabis use would rise, especially among teenagers. That assumption was the starting point for the research carried out by Dr Deborah Hasin, professor of epidemiology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, and her colleagues. However, the findings from 24 years of data from more than one million adolescents in the 48 contiguous states did not substantiate those fears. Their paper in the journal Lancet Psychiatry says that the use of cannabis by adolescents was already higher in the states that have opted for medical legalization. But the change in the law did not lead to a jump in numbers. If this is the case then the point being made by Solutions Barbados is non-sensical as legalization will not increase the use by those who already use the plant thus no proof that youth engaging in the use of the plant will move to other alternatives just for the sake of doing something illegal.
- Analyzing data from a national study called Monitoring the Future, which collects information from 50,000 pupils aged 13 to 18 in the 8th, 10th and 12th grade (years 9, 11 and 13 in Britain) every year, they found there had not been a rise even after taking into account individual, school and state-level factors that can affect marijuana use (such as age, ethnicity, public or private school and proportion of each state’s population that was male or white).
“Our findings provide the strongest evidence to date that marijuana use by teenagers does not increase after a state legalizes medical marijuana,” said Dr Hasin.
Among the youngest students surveyed, the 8th graders, marijuana use actually dropped. The authors speculate that the older students’ views on the drug may already have been fixed before medical legalization, but that those who were younger were less likely to view it as recreational once medicinal use was authorized.
Many more studies can be found that disprove what Solutions Barbados is trying to present to the public of Barbados in a very conservative misguided way. Once again Cannabis Barbados asks that information on cannabis and its impending legalization be researched and factual for the good of all Barbadians.
Chairpersons. Paul Rock (Simba) and Ms. Andrina Alleyne