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Debate has reignited over the highly emotive issue of Barbados’ stance on marijuana use, including for medical purposes.
It comes as an attorney-at-law awaits word from the Minister of Health on an application for his sick wife to use the drug based on a prescription obtained from a doctor in Canada.
At a panel discussion staged by the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, that lawyer, Douglas Trotman said the laws of Barbados permit marijuana to be used on a permit granted by the minister.
“From 1993 research could have been carried out in Barbados,” he said.
“It [marijuana] can be used for veterinary purposes, there’s permission for it to be used in hospital administered by nurses. So the issue of possession is a problem but not so if the minister sanctions it.”
That proposal – using the drug for medical purposes – was at the centre of the panel discussion hosted last week.
At that event, consultant psychiatrist Dr Ermine Belle said while she cannot ignore the associated negatives, it was also time for the country to embrace new methods of medical treatment.
“We must still continue treatment of those who succumb to the ravages of substance abuse, and specific to this discussion, the fight against marijuana abuse. But we now have to look at the good that can be realised by the use of medical marijuana. I will not err on the side of promoting indiscriminate use of marijuana,” Dr Belle said.
The Cave Hill campus is now moving to stage a two-day symposium on marijuana in September to discuss issues of religious rituals as well as the economic, social, environmental impact of recreational use.
Sociology lecturer, Dr Alana Griffith, who has been championing the symposium, has warned that regional states can wind up on the losing end if they move too slowly on the issue of medical marijuana.
“What we will find is that we are going to possibly end up having a dependent relationship where we become the producers for the marijuana that they will refine and sell to us at a higher price than what we sold them for and we will end up, once again, being in the situation like with sugar, bauxite etc,” Dr Griffith said.
Members of the Rastafarian community have been pressuring government to legalize or decriminalize the drug with little success.