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I couldn’t handle ganja – but that’s just me

Let me first declare my personal interest in the subject of cannabis. I won't be like the former President of the United States, Bill Clinton, who said he smoked it but did not inhale. I did inhale — and thus begins my story.

Photograph by Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press

I couldn't handle it because it made me paranoid, seriously distorting reality, and made me very lazy.

Now that was my experience, and I know also others, many of whom had no such effect. In fact, a few of my friends had the opposite effect and would swear they could not focus properly unless they had a smoke of weed.

From a social perspective, I see no real difference between cannabis and alcohol, except when a person drinks, the consumption aspect of alcohol affects only them, while smoke travels and could affect anyone — particularly if in proximity.

Having a contact high, wanted or unwanted, is possible with residual cannabis smoke. But even with that social impediment, it is not enough to warrant the title “criminal”.

From a medical perspective, evidence is growing that cannabis, or what is sometimes referred to as hemp, has proved beneficial in many case applications, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and many other conditions, while the jury is still out on the medical propriety of recreational use.

In that regard Canada has permitted the cultivation of medical marijuana, which can be exported to jurisdictions that permit its use. The populace, while banned from the production of recreational use for distribution, can smoke it publicly in areas permissible, or in their own private space without the risk of criminal accusations.

Britain has also have permitted medical use. However, cannabis is considered a Class B drug and criminal; therefore, not permitted recreationally. Anecdotally, the enforcement is passive in Britain, where it is very unlikely a person would be arrested if found smoking a joint. If, however, they were caught with amounts for supply, or with cocaine in even smaller amounts, they would be apprehended.

In some states in the US, they have either passed laws permitting the use of cannabis, or have decriminalised it altogether. However, it remains a federal offence to be in possession. Which leads to the precarious position of Bermuda as a legislature. While none of us would remember the years of prohibition when alcohol was also a banned substance, the rumrunners and bootleggers were then the pushers. Alcohol became legal, but bootlegging remained a crime.

Today in some areas there is a relaxation of that law where persons can make their own wines. I am fairly certain that to be able to sell hard liquor requires a licence to produce, which will require many government agencies to gain permission and will need to be regulated and continually monitored.

In a world of internationalism, Bermuda will need to look at the corresponding legislations in order not to become seen as a rogue participant in an environment that is still progressing with legislation surrounding the use and production of cannabis.

The US will not be a market for production, nor would Britain, leaving Canada, who may be protective of their own market safeguarding their production, which is government-regulated at present. All the shops in Canada are licensed by the Government.

It may be that the extent to which, at this stage, Bermuda can safely get involved in the production and sale of cannabis on an international level would be for the production of medical marijuana. It may be that within its own borders, it can decriminalise the use of cannabis and, therefore, the local production sustaining the local use would be permitted. However, that would be with an absolute ban on the export of anything other than medicinal cannabis — if legalised for production).

The internal use of cannabis would be a jurisdictional matter for which I don't believe the Governor would be conflicted in her role. The Governor's role is for matters of internal and external security that impinge on international affairs.

If we as a British jurisdiction were attempting to create what is considered an illegal export, they could not approve it. Their disapproval is foreseeable given the present international status of cannabis as a trade commodity. No matter how blunt the disapproval, it is structural and the refusal cannot be used as a doorway to independence.

Even Jamaica, the ganja capital of the Caribbean, has not fully legalised marijuana except for medical use. But they did decriminalise it.

We would face a 17th-century agricultural nightmare if we had to compete with Jamaica and the Caribbean for the production of cannabis.

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Published February 23, 2021 at 8:54 am (Updated February 23, 2021 at 8:55 am)

I couldn’t handle ganja – but that’s just me

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