Legalise it!

By Raffique Shah
March 13, 2017

Raffique ShahMany friends, relatives, even family members seem intent on having me “make ah jail” in my winter years: they are pleading with me to use marijuana! It’s not that they want to see me in a ganja-stupor or they will take delight in seeing armed cops swoop down on the geezer and whisk me off to some dank, putrid cell.

No. They want me to use marijuana for medicinal purposes, specifically, to reduce, probably eliminate, the debilitating symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease (PD) with which I have been afflicted for at least five years. Like me, they have watched videos and read of studies and trials conducted by scientists on the use of cannabis in successfully treating PD patients.

The irony of it all, and maybe the funny side, is when earlier in my life I smoked ganja recreationally, I didn’t think it had any medical use. The sole purpose then was to induce a “cool high” and a good night’s sleep. I’d make an educated guess that at least one-third of my generation, men and women of all class-strata, experimented with ganja. Many of them used it recreationally, a few abused it, and fewer still degenerated to using addictive narcotics like cocaine.

Ganja did not detract me from my work, my responsibilities or my goals. When I decided to stop using it, I just quit. I never smoked in public, in the presence of family, especially children and elders, or others who would be offended or exposed to the long arm of the law by my actions.

I have always believed, though, that the possession and personal use of small amounts of ganja should be legalised, not just decriminalised. It is not without irony that alcohol, which has destroyed more lives and triggered more violence than all other mind-altering substances combined, is one of the highest-valued products traded across the world, and it is glorified by all classes in the society, from the under-classes to the elite.

We need to get used to the reality that ganja is not a dangerous substance any more than alcohol is. Indeed, it has medicinal properties that have been identified, even commercialised (for glaucoma, relief from chronic pain, and more recently, certain neurological disorders). Increasingly, advanced countries across the world are decriminalising the possession of small amounts for recreational and medicinal purposes, and elsewhere it’s illegal but tolerated.

Recently, Jamaica decriminalised the possession of small amounts, its lawmakers formalising what has long existed on the ground. Now, the police can ignore what used to be a petty, victimless “crime”, clear the prisons of marijuana “offenders”, and focus their resources and energies on fighting serious crimes.

I have gone off on a tangent regarding today’s topic because I believe what I’ve written here needed to be said. However, few public figures will admit that they used ganja, and many media commentators who feel the way I do about legalising controlled use of the herb fear the likely backlash from those in the establishment who hypocritically seek to moralise on such matters even though they are mired in sin.

My main focus is the increasing use ganja, or some derivative or distillate from the herb, in treating neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s. As research and development continues, a popular YouTube video shows a patient, Ian Frizell, shaking like a leaf, then, seconds after vaporising (different to smoking) 30 mg of marijuana, enjoying almost full relief from both tremors and dystonia (stiff limbs and muscles).

Only someone with PD can imagine such relief: conventional medications could take an hour or more to kick in. Many studies by reputable scientists and institutions have validated the efficacy of one drop of ganja oil in treating PD sufferers and patients who experience seizures because of neurological conditions.

In fact, in a very touching TED-Talk video, Hugh Hempel, an IT scientist turned healthcare entrepreneur by force of circumstance, tells his audience, “My 10-year-old twin daughters use marijuana.” He explains that the twins suffer with a rare, fatal neurodegenerative disease commonly called “Childhood Alzheimer’s”. He and his wife focused on trying to save their daughters’ lives, and they discovered a simple sugar compound called “cyclodextrin”.

However, to bring relief from the 100-seizures-a-week the twins suffered, they turned to “Cannabidiol”, an element in marijuana that is powerful in treating the brain. Long story short, the twins are treated several times a day with the drug developed by their parents (FDA-approved), and they enjoy ganja-relief from seizures.

As a PD patient, I am prepared to try ganja oil to see if, unlike Sinemet, the main medication, it brings speedy, and possibly long-lasting, relief.

The Government should decriminalise if not legalise the controlled use of ganja, especially for medicinal purposes. It could be a revenue source rather than a cost—wasting police and magistrates’ time, and feeding prisoners who will get their ganja anyway, inside or outside of jail.

5 thoughts on “Legalise it!”

  1. I do know of some elders who worked in the cane fields by 7:00 am he or she take a swig of puncheon (>70%v/v alcohol content) and do not have any hangover because of the reduced congeneric levels in the alcohol. Compare that to some gold or white rum (57%v/v alcohol content) and depending on the amounts consumed, got to deal with levels of hangover the next day depending on the brand and congeneric levels. Congeneric is the volatiles and fusel oils in liquor. The cane cutter is better off health wise because he has cleared his throat of the dust and ash. He goes home and the wife and him enjoy the pull on the chillum as well. Keep in mind the excise taxes collected on the manufacture of alcohol is a principal revenue earner for those governments (Scotland-scotch whisky)

    Now, for sure there is medicinal properties in marijuana and ironically it is classified as a drug just as alcohol is. I have visited Columbia and it is amazing as to the different cannabinoid products on sale but once those products cross the border and it is disapproved by the FDA, you’re in trouble.

    My take is, if one gets relief with the use of alternative medicines compared with conventional medicines then my philosophy is go for it but use the required wisdom in getting the relief and do not brag about it because of possible consequences. Leave that for Kellyann Conway with her ‘alternative facts’.

    Case in point give it another 15-20 years and serious concerns would be expressed on vaccines and autism. Big Sam is the dictator in every aspect of our lives. He goes to Afghanistan and destroy the poppy fields and yet becomes the importer of cocaine type drugs e.g., lignocaine used as local anaesthetics.

  2. Very touchy subject Raff!
    As one of the earlier hallucinating or may we say ‘fatal’ drugs, marijuana carries with it, a very strong identity with illegally
    consumed drugs. The experience of the drugs vary, depending on who legislates its use. From my early days in Jamaica, it was very common to meet and chat with people on the buses in Kingston, who used it for recreational purposes. But it was strongly identified with medicinal and intellectual results. Those with whom I spoke mostly called it “the wisdom plant”. Others, especially the younger ones were more apt to identify it with “getting high”. As a soldier then, it was common for us to go on exercises to get rid of the ‘plant’ in places like Dwarika Hills, where the population was mostly Rastas growing and using the stuff.

    It was the drug of choice among the urban elite and poor alike. But when the profit aspect became a concern, the “drug dealers” were way ahead of the authorities who generally so it as an illegal drug. In its burgeoning years, marijuana became the drug of choice among city dwellers and youths of the sixties. The price on the market rallied just as the trading of stocks on the stock market. It is now a lucrative product (albeit illegal), with a strong identity as being hallucinating, medicinal, increasing mental capacity and of course as a night cap.

    Naturally, governments around the world condemned its use and made it illegal, generally speaking. So, when we went to Dwarika Hills, it was not to see who is smoking it, but who is planting it. When we got a find, we destroyed the fields. Marijuana became dangerous when the exploiters of it started using its chemistry potentials to add ‘power’ to the ‘highs’.
    By this time marijuana became a major product of the underworld of drug dealers. By this time its use started having and experiencing casualties. Many young men and women with ‘potential’ became victims of drug use. Talents like Billie Holiday and many jazz artistes were early casualties of drug use.
    As experiments with more powerful drugs became common and varied, stars like Richard Pryor, Robin Williams became victims of the enhanced drugs. This is the case for the illegality of marijuana.

    The facts that there were many casualties from drug use did not stop many people from using it. The notion that it is a “wisdom plant” with medicinal ingredients became catchy with certain segments of its users. The persistence and use by that segment of users is what is responsible for the increasing legality of its use today. In almost a dozen states in the US have legalized its use for medicinal purposes. And whats more amazing
    it that marijuana companies have now become a part of Wall
    Street where you can buy marijuana stocks on the stock market.

  3. {Yes. Legalise It} I do not smoke, have no interest in smoking. But, Medical records show all over the world. this product Help’s folks who suffer different aliments. Also, it will take the Big Money, and some CRIME, out of the picture.And as Governments always do, Make money off these Free Mother Nature products.—-Those TAX Monies, CAN BE USE FOR THE homeless,/DRUG dependent folks.———-I am wishing.

  4. “Many friends, relatives, even family members seem intent on having me “make ah jail” in my winter years: they are pleading with me to use marijuana!”

    Ahhhh,what do we have here folks ? Our Uncle Shah ,is afraid of making a jail. Well I’ll be…dar..! A man who,together with his equally idealistic ,Mama Britain ,Sandhurst,Coup School trained hermano ,Rex Lasalle , allegedly,almost brought our embryonic Democracy to a screeching halt,in 1970,is suddenly worried about becoming some 7ft 11, Mandingo eaposa,in one of David Khan’s well run Prisons?
    Nah ,you can smoke all the weed you want,yet have nada to fear ,so long that you ,just like Kamla ,& her boy toy, dope fiend neighbor,or now disgraced Chief Dougla Anil Roberts,belong to the right socio economic demograpics.
    Now if some poor idiot from say the East West Corridor enclaves ,or Swampy ,mosquito infested ,Central Barrios,so indulge ,then in the words of my late ,extremely wise Tobago Granny,’that’s a horse of a different color.’
    Just don’t attempt any form of New Maths, as practiced by former Female abusing /Tomcat,dead beat dad ,and PP Pundit Shama ,along with his boss Sat Maraj,or countless like minded, Trini Imams ,who think it’s cool( as Chalkdust recently lamented in his poignant Kaiso )to try and divide 75 ,into 14,Y por que?
    AG Allahhwee,in true Karl Hudson Phillip fashion,is the new Red &Ready Sheriff in Town , & is on the verge of locking up all dem morally repugnant ,adult Trini,child rapist /sex abusing hombres ,who still wish to marry,and or , have babies, with chiefly poor, 9,10,14 ,14,& 16 year olds.

    Well ,I take that back ,for that Pro Government Marriage Ammendment Bill ,has as good a chance of passing,or rather ,getting full acceptance by these political cretins ,as Dr Rat Grand son,of marrying Basdeo elite -London,by way of Duprey-CLICO shareholders educated hija, in UNC/PP savior ,Princess Mikila Panday, one day soon. Ain’t happening,in dis lifetime.
    Serioisly though. I don’t have a problem with any T&T government decriminalizing Marijuana,or following the lead of Jamaica,by allowing citizens, to engage in full scale production,but not before a thorough policy of land regularization,& distribution is conducted in La Trinity.
    I want the Afro Trini folks from the poor uninhabitable ,Brazillian like Favella enclaves of Movant,Lavantille etc,to get their chances of making millions ,just like their Indo Trini counterparts ,who got their governmental Land Deeds ,for choice State land ownership,the same day Caroni closed down.
    Certainly a great day in T&T, for Mr Law and order himself ,in Uncle Shah ,is more concern about doing elusive jail time for Weed,when a T&T ,female Police officer body ,was found by local fishermen .

    Yep ,the said guy ,who along with dellusional , militaristic peons, has repeatedly demanded ,that we start WW3 ,each time an unfortunate Tethron Gangreen Soldier, becomes victim to some criminal monstrosity.

    May still defenseless females,& neglected children ,get the full protection,& justice ,they deserve in our underachieving T&T some day!
    Hopefully, thoe with power and influence ,will quit their diagusting penchant ,for selective outrages,and instead ,take a firm stance ,to promote Equal Rights,and Social Justice-in keeping with a modern civilize Democracy,si?

  5. Please see the Cannabis 101 lecture the Parkinson’s Canada Society put out via lecture/webinar – it is very informative. There are REAL medical benefits to this plant. Unlike alcohol and tobacco, there are NO deaths that result from cannabis use. The countries who have legalized or decriminalized have proven that alcoholism, crime rates and opiate abuse decreases. Not to mention numerous individuals having criminal records due to a harmless plant which can ultimately ruin their life/future. In 2001 Portgual decriminalized ALL drugs in favour of a system that favours treatment over prison.

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