Ganja Law – A Deceptive Debate

“Freeing up the weed” should not be treated as a simple political trump card gaining votes and popularity while ignoring other issues.

I tried smoking weed…that’s what I’ll call it in this piece…once.  I was fifteen years old I recall, and the experience probably made a decision on my behalf to never do it again.  Many of my friends in high school who smoked weed thought then, and probably still do, that I was a “weed man” too. 

I smoked cigarettes in high school and was one of the leading suppliers of the hottest popular foreign brands, but I suspect being in a mixed circle all the time made us all seem to have the same vices.  I also derailed many a compass in my friends by showing up with a bottle of Cold Duck or some similar potent brew.  I honestly believe the smell of a burning spliff helped to discourage my personal use and even though I didn’t smoke, my eyes told a different story while sharing that company.  Between school and adult life I faced years of much persuasion to try weed from friends, associates and persons within my social space.  They tried many ways from mocking and taunting that I “wasn’t man enough”, or “nuh believe what you hear” or the most used “it better than dem damn cigarettes”.  When I cited any adverse effects I had seen I was told the user was probably made of tender stuff or the weed must have been “bush” or tainted.  When I mentioned facts listed about its hallucinogenic potential I was told “cigarette companies use those lies because weed compete in sales yout”, and that at first it might be challenging, but over time when I’m used to it I would be fine.   One thing I will say early is that I’m not fighting those who smoke weed or trying to fight weed, I’m merely giving a basic personal and shared outlook on the matter.  I’m also a little disturbed at the latest debate, laws, political agenda and real intent of the push for use of weed…which I thought was mainly medicinal benefit also creating export revenue.  That part will come.

My Experience
On a trip to St Mary for a weekend I needed to find a safe hiding spot to have one cigarette, which was all I could risk without the lingering scent giving me away.  The young men who were assigned to show me around by my mother’s friend led me about a mile away under the lie of getting coconuts.  While I had a smoke they pulled out a bread bag with weed and offered me a piece of “di best collie in di parish”, which I took and promised to sample the next day.  They had much fun it seems, I got my cig break and we returned to the distant mile away house.

legalize marijuana in Jamaica will not help the poor marginalized political system
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The next afternoon while most adults left for a funeral I tried to get this spliff ‘built’ while sitting on the roof of a storeroom.  I opted to do this alone to avoid embarrassment in case the coughing that created laughter among the group was aimed at me.  So thinking it must be like cigarettes or a little harsher, I set about on my experiment.  Did I mention the building had two levels and an upstairs door that led to metal steps ending on a roof that appeared to set me three levels high?  No?  Silly omission.  I barely got through two drags of the weed rolled in a slip of brown paper bag, but it is all still quite vivid as I write.  Soon my eyes refused to stay open while waging a war against ever being shut, nausea slowly boiled in the pit of my stomach, and several thoughts came to mind.  I also realised that the well tended lawn three levels below was actually within an arm’s reach if I just reached out and touched.  I was caught between the idea that stepping off the roof would cause no harm and a small voice telling me I was being tricked.  In the midst of a few other meandering ideas I was slightly aware that the journey to the roof had been a tad tedious, but would be impossible given my predicament.  I gave control to what felt like pending death or common sense and sat down.  Anyway, later on I was helped down from the roof, went to bed and had a seasick sleep for many hours, which deceptively explained as “too much sorrel”. No I’m not a man who heavy strong drink will convert into a child

Some Denied Effects
Most of my life I’ve seen many effects of weed on different persons from deep bush living rastas to lavish living lawyers.  Some seem to be completely unaffected, some “frass and need fi just chill a bit”.  Some have said they can’t function effectively until they’ve had a spliff as it allows them to think clearer than usual or “hold a meds”.  I’ve found it interesting that most weed smokers claim weed isn’t addictive like cigarettes, but while they smoke a spliff another joint is being rolled.  Some smoke weed far more than I smoke cigarettes especially when there is need to build, enjoy or maintain a “vibes”. 

I KNOW AS A FACT that in some cases weed can slur speech, slow down the brain function for a bit, create hallucinations, significantly reduce or increase appetite.  Not just because I experienced it personally, but I have seen a LOT of persons go through changes within a period of being “new to weed” and becoming what some call themselves, “weed head”.  Most weed smokers I know smoke at a shockingly high rate, all the while denying that they’re hooked and need it every minute. 

I don’t intend to list all the varieties of attitudes I’ve seen with weed, but almost every weed smoker has a long list of defence for his habit and addiction.  Did I just call it a habit and addiction knowing how offended a weed man gets if you liken his spliff to addicted behaviour and he will move heaven and earth to get weed ten minutes after he just smoked a “big head”. You ever know when a man NEEDS a cigarette or can’t find them and seems to be like a heroine addict to locate it or smoke one?  Well just try and hide weed from a man who been smoking it for hours at a dance or studio and can’t find the “bills bag”.  Or in the company of ten weed men and one suddenly says “who have weed” and the answer is negative…you better find some before the ten get antsy.  Right now some people are saying “that is just a handful of people cah that neva happen to me or my friends yet”.  All of a sudden now weed smoking is being highly promoted in the same breath as use of weed for certain medicinal use and the benefits for several export opportunities.  Interesting.

Denial And Dishonesty
Some medical experts have reminded us that smoking weed CAN have negative effects on some persons.  Some say that number is in the minority, some say it has been evident in some social behaviour issues, some say those few cases are probably caused by some OTHER underlying issue.  Recently at a launch of the weed for research, medicinal and by-product purposes some in the profession rubbished all negative elements from colleagues.  The government is so eager to sell the concept of consumption that it is pushing it at every possible podium island wide.  What is evident about this weed issue is that two issues are being confused…the medical benefits of using weed in different ways and expunging criminal records created for being in possession of “small amounts of the weed”.

The decriminalization of weed has been in the fields for ages based on the questionable issues associated with usage and abuse associated with usage.  While seeking to facilitate the efforts for medicine and research, the gate for expunging records has been hastily and eagerly thrown open by the government saying “remember it’s the PNP that made this happen for you”.  It is evident and clear that political popularly and votes is the big push behind it all, but it is also willing to disregard any who think differently.  All this time while we heard ways that would be used to hold people accountable for certain amounts in possession the government knew they had none of the elements to consider reasonable prosecution.  So police must guess how much weed you have in your pocket as they have no way to test it, but even if it is obviously more than allowed there are no tickets to hand offenders.  So there was no REAL plan to prosecute anyone with less than a few pounds and the glorification of weed smoking and clean records became a two part story sold as one.  It is sad that the best way to promote one thing is to absolutely ignore and dismiss any negatives accompanying the matter. 

What is the present law on minors in possession of two ounces of weed?  What is the difference between a minor on the road with two legal ounces and a school saying having it in his possession is grounds for expulsion?  Can a minor be arrested for possession of two ounces and if so will he be charged or ticketed?  If he’s locked up for possession of two ounces as a minor how then is it legal to not lock up others.  If an adult weed smoker who is a high level user and has a few already rolled… is searched and five spliffs of two ounces each which he smokes is found…and he says “the law says my spliff must be 2 ounces and they are”…is he right or wrong under the law?  It is sad that in the name of selling a rushed political plus to the masses we have ignored the need to be as balanced and ethical as possible.  Sometimes it turns out to be too much, too soon while the genuine issues and concerns like youngsters use and abuse of weed is swept under an already dirt loaded carpet.


Rodney S. O. Campbell ©

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