Legalise ganja, says regional commission

| 16/07/2018 | 108 Comments

(CNS): Professor Rose-Marie Belle Antoine, University of the West Indies Dean of the Faculty of Law and chair of the CARICOM commission on cannabis, has called for the prohibition on ganja to be lifted across the region. In a recent presentation to the annual gathering of Caribbean nations, she presented an outline of the commission’s report, which found that the current regime for ganja “is ineffective, incongruous, obsolete and deeply unjust”, as she called on nations in the region to totally dismantle prohibition and replace it with strictly regulated national regimes akin to alcohol and tobacco control.

As attitudes towards ganja shift around the world, CARICOM established a commission to lead the way on the future options for the region. After considering the most up to date evidence and the views of Caribbean people, Antoine told the organisation that the status quo cannot be maintained and legal reform should be a priority for member states.

“We believe that the end goal for CARICOM should be the dismantling of prohibition in its totality, to be replaced by a strictly regulated framework,” she said, adding that the status quo should not be maintained. “However, we acknowledge that law reform can take many forms and should conform to national realities.”

With scientific evidence severely challenging previous beliefs about the drug and medical evidence that cannabis is less harmful than alcohol, the commission also found very wide public support across the Caribbean region for legalisation and concerns, not just about prohibition hindering medical application, but also the social injustices that have arisen from the ban.

Antoine told the audience at CARICOM that the Commission had accepted the evidence that the original classification of cannabis in law as a dangerous drug with no value was made without the benefit of scientific research and data.

“This is significant given that the harshness of the law was premised on this supposed egregious harm. Despite the draconian, prohibitionist legal regime that exists in every Member State, with its extensive controls and punitive measures, use of marijuana has persisted and taken root globally in the Caribbean and worldwide, reaching every social strata, It is the most extensively used illicit drug in the world. An estimated 183 million people consume it. There is now overwhelming support for law reform, moving away from the prohibition on cannabis and consequent criminalisation.”

According to the surveys and data collected by the commission, the majority of Caribbean people believe the current laws are “ineffective, discriminatory, deeply unjust, violate rights and lack legitimacy”. But there is also concern that prohibition is preventing the region from taking advantage of the economic opportunities in the cannabis industry and medical research and prohibiting access to medicine that can heal them more effectively and more cheaply than traditional pharmaceuticals.

“We found that the evidence clearly supports this public opinion and demonstrates that the existing prohibitionist regime induces more harm than any possible adverse consequences of cannabis,” Antoine added.

The only indication of adverse effects the Commission found is the negative effect on the adolescent brain and on driving, but in the same way that alcohol and other substances should not be available for children except in medical circumstances. “On balance, after evaluating the scientific data and testimonies from the public, the Commission is of the view that the proven medical benefits of cannabis in several areas outweigh the risks.”

Given the key finding that ganja has several beneficial effects and can no longer be accurately classified in law as a “dangerous drug” with “no medicinal or other value”, the illegal status of the drug can no longer be justified.

With jails across the region overflowing with otherwise law-abiding citizens who have been caught with small amounts of cannabis, exacerbated by their inability to raise bail, putting pressure on law enforcement resources, the commission also found that biases, discrimination and inequality are evident in every aspect of the administration of the criminal justice system relating to ganja.

Courts in Canada and the US have also found that denying persons the ability to grow ganja at home for use as a personal medicine violates human rights to integrity and liberty.

Here in Cayman, Dennie Warren Jr, who was instrumental in pushing the government to approve the prescription of cannabis oil by physicians for those with a variety of conditions that could benefit from the oil, wants us to go much further and legalise the plant.

Warren also wants to ensure that everyone has equal access to the drug so it is not just accessible to a select few. He said farmers and gardeners should be allowed to cultivate their own plants for their own use or to engage in commercial ventures. He is keen to ensure there will be no monopoly or excessive government control over who can cultivate it, as he said that wouls make the drug expensive.

“We need to take the next step and decriminalise if not legalise cannabis,” he said, noting that the world’s attitude toward the plant which is “a food and a medicine is changing”. He said it “should not be a crime to consume it just because some people think it should be”, without any evidence to support its criminalisation. He spoke about the relief ganja gives to people who are using it for medical purposes, which is something those advocating for it to remain illegal or sceptical about it simply don’t understand.

Warren pointed out that lifting the prohibition would also facilitate research into the benefits, as historically the only research ever done was the failed attempts to prove it was harmful. Without a change in the law, it will be increasingly difficult to shift the research from the negative to the positive, he believes.

Warren has warned that it will be difficult for Cayman to play catch-up in the sector if it doesn’t take the steps necessary to lift the prohibition now, given the sweeping changes in Canada, the US and the likely decriminalisation and legalisation across the Caribbean . “Canada is poised to become a leader in the industry and Cayman needs to tear down the barriers to production,” he added.

The economics of the drug are important, and in her presentation to CARICOM Antoine spoke about prohibition denying the CARICOM region substantial economic benefits, both in terms of savings from the averted costs accrued by law enforcement, fighting prohibition induced crime, reduced black market, and from the potential positive benefits, sales, licensing requirements for production, taxes and other revenue.

“A cannabis industry can create innovative enterprise, providing employment and encouraging entrepreneurship,” she said. “The Economics Study that we commissioned illustrates that the highest financial benefits will come from a fully legalised model that is strictly regulated.

Read the presentation by Professor Antoine here

Check back to CNS next month when the full report will become publicly available around the region.

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Category: Local News

Comments (108)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The day that Caymanians start getting up and fighting for what they want, the day that the civil disobedience starts will be the beginning of the end for the puppets in government

  2. Anonymous says:

    XXXXX
    I grew up smoking weed but was sometimes lucky and sometimes smart enough not to get caught. I have had a successful career that could also have been derailed early on had I been caught. It would be nice to see our current Legislators, most of whom also grew up smoking weed (some more than others), to show true leadership and take an innovative approach to at least dumbing down the illegality of this herb.

    CNS: Sorry, but you cannot comment on ongoing cases. Perhaps you could make the same point using more general examples.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Might as well legalize it. Cigarettes and alcohol are legal. They cause more violence and deaths. Just the facts.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I’d like to hear someone ask one of these bigshot politicians why did they allow alcohol and cigarettes to be legal but weed is still illegal if they truly cared about our people why did they allow alcohol and cigarettes to come here in the first place

  4. Anonymous says:

    This is a jurisdiction run for and by lawyers. To believe otherwise is very naive. Lawyers profit off the backs of others’ losses. Legalizing this product, would put a significant dent into the pockets of defense attorneys, not to mention the entire industry of policing this, from judges, police, prosecutors. This is a rigged game in which the players are on both sides of the coin. We tend to only view the criminal element however the other side is probably valued at 50 million dollar industry in this small jurisdiction.

    Voters need to stop believing that the system is run for your benefit. Stand up, and the ones at the top will topple. Continuing whining on cns and other online forums and you’ll continue scratching your heads for the next century trying to understand why nothing productive gets done.

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  5. Only speaking the truth says:

    It’ll only be legalised once the government figures out how to get their paws into it all. Remember this government is ok with marijuana use as long as you’re buying it from them directly.

    CNS: Cannabis oil for medical purposes, once prescribed by a physician, is purchased from a pharmacy, just like other medications. The HSA pharmacy does not currently stock it, so it must be purchased from a private pharmacy. I’m guessing that is what you are referring to.

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  6. Anon says:

    Legalize all drugs. Laws should focus on purity of the product and disclosure of the immediate and long term effects of using them. Law to regulate the places that intoxicated persons can be would also make sense, as would drug testing laws to facilitate the exclusion of users from any position of respinsibility. The system Cayman has now simply funnels cash into the hands of criminals and corrupt government officials. It does little to prevent the weak fools who consume drugs from indulging in them. Drug prohibition laws make about as much sense as Bad weather prohibition laws would do. That being said, if you use intoxicants, including alcohol, you are an idiot, and I pity you.

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  7. Caymanian says:

    Why not offer levels of licenses to grow it here so we don’t to import it along with guns to fulfill the huge demand in Cayman?

    All these busts do is leave them desperate for cash so they rob up the place..

    Level 1 growers license is a small fee for 5 plants grown on personal, private property

    Levels 2, higher fee, more plants, more business opportunity, more TAX for us

    Continue.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    All drugs in the world should be legal. It must be prescribed by a legal pharmacy or doctor same as alcohol. Include an antidote. None can control the usage of any substances that makes you out of control when your already out of control. We call it recreational. Rasta is a religion not a man a man is only a man that profits from you. Drugs are drugs and what drugs do??!
    Pharmacist and doctors prescribed by quantity per day government license and fees for over usage rehabilitate those few. Smuggling charges then sell to pharmacy and doctor’s clinic to portion size it. Market sales with license to sell in shops would be a dumb idea who knows what someone mat put in it drugs will make you walk the earth like a lifeless person zombies are coming get the shot gun omg it’s to late. But wait where did you put my car… Huh who me heh hehe joke joke. But wait don’t game with me cause you already stole my money and every other thing else too. Omg… My things my gold chain where my money gone oh God help me
    Sorry Bo God can’t help you na wey u goin.
    Thank you!

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  9. Anonymous says:

    One other consideration is what may have to be surrendered if Cayman does choose legalization. Border control in the US is Federal jurisdiction and they are making life uncomfortable for Canadians involved in the industry.

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/canadians-in-cannabis-industry-complain-of-u-s-border-issues-1.4745325

    https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/why-investing-in-pot-could-pose-problems-at-the-u-s-border-1.4011813

    Timing it with when the US legalizes it Federally may be worthwhile, otherwise unintended consequences could result.

    I am all for the legalization, just remember the reliance of travel to and from the USA.

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  10. V says:

    To lock someone up for smoking a plant that makes them happy is insane.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    Hell Dio G, you better add cars, guns, knives, anything with CFC’s, styofoam, bleach, electricity, chewing gum, etc.. We wouldn’t have pretty much anything.

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  12. Slow Ambition says:

    @ 1:02

    True. It so happens that too much smoking of weed kills a persons ambition-drive. Folks, look at the potheads you have on the streets. You tell me if you see them well shaved or well dressed. No you don’t! To much of the weed has made them slow-minded and lazy.

    Even Bob Marley said that too much of anything is not good. A rasta man must have moderation.

    However, I am still for legalizing it. Just think the public should always be educated about its negative effects.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    Some good, common sense legislation. Too bad we don’t have a good, common sense goverment

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  14. anonymous says:

    My goodness these islands must be riddled with potheads, no wonder we keep recovering thousands of pounds of this obnoxious weed from our beaches. One wonders how much is smuggled in without being discovered!. Recently it seems one West Bay man was caught with drugs and $220,000 in cash, there must be many more like him to supply the native demand. I suppose the potheads would argue if cannabis was legalised Government could double the size of the Civil Service paying for it with the additional import duties earned thereby, giving jobs to all the unemployed Caymanians regardless of their mental state.

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  15. Anon says:

    I would normally agree with this. But, not here on this Island…would be chaos!

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    • Anonymous says:

      It won’t happen. Not until it is figured out how only the chosen few “prestigious Cayman families” can control it 100%. Until then, it will never be legal.

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  16. Anonymous says:

    Legalizing Marijuana doesn’t stop cartels from being involved. One hard look at Colorado Crime since legalization and you will see crime has increased as the cartels will not just stop controlling the market. All you little pot heads don’t see this or the toll the traffic takes on 3rd World families. Drink a Red Stripe and no one dies.

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  17. JAY says:

    if it legalize here u going see how dumb people act with it a bunch of HYPE especially with the younger generation, they will make it their LORD & SAVIOR big oL HYPE and oh my 4:20am & 4:20pm big oL HYPE no hope! if u wanna smoke just fly out and blaze up and if u feel to post on IG make sure your location says CANADA or JAMAICA for all the IG smokers Silly fools its just a lil weed HYPSTERS

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  18. Anonymous says:

    Cayman can’t even regulate the speed limit. We haven’t been deterring ganja shipments, and product has always been very easy to find – even inside the prison! You’d have to be both brazen and stupid to get caught for anything here. What then would be the message and purpose of legitimizing the active transshipment bringing all of our other problems – guns, ammo, cocaine and people? Those that control Tivoli Gardens and receive over $200mln a year in smurfed western union transfers, aren’t going to cede control of this quadrant of their empire to some bureaucrats in the Cayman Islands that think they are going to grow their own and corner the market. All we wind up doing is legitimizing all of the other trafficking with one misinformed decision. Medical Rx’s, unaffected. Apologies to all of the hard-working and/or aspiring drug dealers, but this is not Colorado or Canada.

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  19. Anonymous says:

    Legalise it.

    Thereafter, I will obtain a few high-grade plants for personal cultivation and consumption…and treat the wifey to an extra-special evening every now and then.

    Those who know, know.

    😉

    – Who

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    • Anonymous says:

      I’m for legalizing but against ever liking your weird posts and very against the image of you and your wifey having an extra special evening. I bet you have a goatee.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Lol!!
        That made my day, thanks!

        Btw, I’ll have you know – such visuals are quite pleasing to the eye … it has been proven.

        😉

        – Who

        P.S. I do not have a goatee – sorry to disappoint.

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  20. Anonymous says:

    Legalize it and be the leader of the “off shore Amsterdam!” This island needs to move away from ganja dealers and drug runners. Now you’re gonna have a problem with all the other drugs they bring in, mainly cocaine, but weeed does nothing to harm you like alcohol does and that’s legal.

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  21. Anonymous says:

    Come on Cayman! This can be our legacy! Lets legalize it and take the power away from the gangs. I want to grow 2 plants for personal use and it shouldn’t be a crime for me to do so!

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    • Anonymous says:

      If Cayman legalize it and the prisoners free, I will cry for joy. Because for too long Cayman have copied laws from the powers that be in the UK and US. We do not think for itself.

      Now is the opportunity to make history in the Caribbean.

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      • Anonymous says:

        We abolished slavery before the USA now lets legalize marijuana before them too!

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      • Anonymous says:

        Barely anyone in the UK gets locked away for ganja these days. The cops are too busy doing real police work and looking for real criminals. It’s much easier there than in Cayman and doesn’t carry the same consequences. You can blame the God squad and government for that.

  22. Anonymous says:

    CARICOM to the world!! Free the herbs! I don’t want to be classed as a criminal for drinking my medicinal tea anymore!

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  23. Anon says:

    Legalize because:
    If idiots want to get drugs they will get drugs.
    This will take the big money out of the hands of underground dealers.
    This drug should be used for medicinal purposes only. Doctor supervised like oxycodone and other pain killers like valium are now.
    Like drugs they should be taken for pain and not abused.
    Remember that alcohol was once illegal. Today it is no big deal. Same will happen to marijuana aka pot aka cannabis.

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  24. Anonymous says:

    Cayman needs to move before the rest of the region does. It will be far more beneficial to get on with it now rather than waiting.

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  25. Anonymous says:

    First, to be clear I don’t smoke it so this is not some pothead’s rant. Secondly, If governments were smart, they could so easily capitalize on this.

    1. Give out a few licenses to import the stuff or do that themselves.

    2. Charge duty on it, or better yet have the government grow their own product or a “government sanctioned” product and use the revenues for the plethora of institutions on the island that could use the influx of money, ie. Lighthouse School, Red Cross, Bonaventure, Pines, etc.

    3. Make it cheap enough that bringing it in illegally is not worth the cost and continue to burn the illegally brought in stuff because God only knows what it is mixed/soaked with.

    4. Treat it like alcohol or tobacco in regards to sales and permits to sell.

    5. Do not allow street peddling and establish zones where it cannot be sold ie. within 500ft of a school, or public/tourist areas. Let’s not turn these areas into those gauntlets of harassment like you have in other islands leaving tourist attractions. Can you imagine Bo bo on the corner selling it while having his T & B pinned to his shirt?

    6. Add it to the cigarette section of the Customs and Tariffs like tobacco.

    7. Business can still follow their policies like they would for drinking on the job. If suspected, get tested and disciplined as required. Remember drinking isn’t illegal but you cannot be drunk on the job.

    8. If tourists bring their own in, allow them a certain amount considered for “personal use” duty free and confiscate large amounts that would be considered for supplying.

    Considering the billions of dollars ganja makes in sales globally and considering the practical medical applications, this should have been done a long time ago. Cutting into the money pie this makes can and would help fill budget gaps like lottery in the US funds education and would ease the strain on the government in certain areas.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Oh.. Also make it known that politicians CANNOT be involved making a profit.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Biggest problem is that you can’t bank the money. Without a buy in from the US no-one will be allowed to deposit cash, banks in the US would pull the plug on anyone accepting ‘drug’ money and that would kill international banking for Cayman.

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  26. Elvis again says:

    Trouble making it legal here is we have total balloon heads who will drive high af and kill people, they are not capable of having anything good and keeping control of it, they always turn it to s**t ASAP

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  27. Marijuana is a herb, not a drug. says:

    Waiting for the alcohol and tobacco users to come out with their hypocritical BS on why Mary Jane shouldn’t be legal.

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  28. Anonymous says:

    take a look at his country…riddled with crime….of all the people to advise!!!???????

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  29. Anonymous says:

    Did warren get access to the oil now and does it help ?

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  30. Anonymous says:

    There’s nothing Holy about ganja or any other drug. It’s been the source of the trouble on this island for years! Why can’t you people live normal clean lives and leave this shite out of your bodies…….you obviously haven’t got the confidence or ability to live without this crap!! You’d be better people if you’d concentrate more on your education and looked after your family more. Ganja, like any other drug messes with your head and causes paranoia and a host of other problems. People rob the hard working man in order to get money to buy these drugs. Get a life!!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Being THAT ignorant is this day and age is a choice you wanna talk about crap in people’s bodies ? Go make cigarettes and alcohol illegal.

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    • Anonymous says:

      You need a life bruv! If you cannot back what you’re saying with factual information, then please have several seats…… have you ever seen the list of side effects that could occur when a person is taking prescription drugs? Even if your comment was correct, “messing with your head” and “causes paranoia” are still insignificant when it come to the world of pharmaceutical drug side effects. When cannabis has a side effect of possible death, then you can rant freely about how dangerous it is.

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    • rd says:

      The things you’re talking about is when you abuse it, just like anything and everything else in this world, too much will harm you. You’re an idiot if you think this herb isnt good, it makes you feel happy, helps you relax, helps with so many health issues. I’ve been using is responsibly for years and live a very full successful life. What you’re saying is similar to saying we shouldn’t eat cake because we’ll get fat.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly, must be very addictive to make these dumb ass go out and rob and maim others to get a few dollars to buy a spliff. How can that be a good thing. Too Many zombies roaming around now so can you imagine if it is legal?

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      • Anonymous says:

        Yes, they are robbing for spliffs. Smh. What a dumb thing to post. People who are robbing and maiming are doing it because they are criminals who only get money for everything they need to pay for (CUC, gas, groceries, etc).

        You know plenty of pot smokers but you would never know it because they are partaking in their own home on their own time. The rest of the time they are pillars of the community. You just don’t believe that because you’ve bought what big pharmaceutical has sold the public. It started with tree paper companies demonizing hemp made paper for their own profits to now big pharma possibly losing money and trying to brainwash you beforehand. Wake up.

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      • Anonymous says:

        @11:56 There is this funny little law called “public intoxication” when it comes to alcohol. With a little tweaking that law could easily be amended to include being VERY high publicly if it isn’t already part of it.

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    • Anonymous says:

      You are more likely to get robbed by a crack head than a pot head unless you happen to just come from the grocery store and have 3 bags of chips on you.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Please practice what you preach in the final three words of your post.

  31. Anonymous says:

    but caymanians are smarter than everybody else!…they know best!……….zzzzzzzzz

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  32. Cess Pita says:

    It is an undeniable and documented fact that many long term ganja users in the UK end up in mental hospitals requiring expensive long term treatment.

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    • Anonymous says:

      1 those people usually already have a history either themselves or in their family of mental issues

      2 those drugs could easily be laced with other things mostly because …. if it’s illegal there’s no regulation

      3 if you legalise is you can regulate it and make sure its ONLY weed

      4 anything used in excess is bad for you. Even too much oxygen or water can kill you

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      • Cess Pita says:

        9.24am Sheer nonsense to say it’s nothing to do with ganja, any mental issues they develop are a RESULT of long term ganja consumption.
        Your very own Caricom Commission on cannabis amongst all it’s laudatory comments on the drug has to admit the “negative effects on the adolescent brain” and these negative effects continue to accrue as time goes on.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Similar to the negative effects that alcohol has on the adolescent brain? Where do you get your information, a Cess Pit?

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        • Anonymous says:

          @11:08 “Your very own Caricom Commission on cannabis amongst all it’s laudatory comments on the drug has to admit the “negative effects on the adolescent brain” and these negative effects continue to accrue as time goes on.”

          Key word there is “ADOLESCENT”. Alcohol and tobacco can do the exact same thing that is why it is ILLEGAL for MINORS (18 and under) to buy and consume because the know the brain is still developing. You make it sound as if Bobo the herb man is going to roll up into our schools or something in a vending bus and start selling.

          @9:24 has a point, being illegal there is no regulation on what it is laced with. You can get weed laced with PCP or God knows what else. A regulated product would not have those potentially lethal chemical mixes in it. Same way illegal moonshiners in the US used to add methanol to their batches to make them stronger. Doing so could make you blind and could kill you. No regulations or standards of purity equals serious side effects.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Well with the number of mental problems according to the recent statistics we should never even contemplate making this legal. Government will end up spending every penny they make through licenses and regulations to assist the mental community so that will be a loose/loose situation.

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  33. Anonymous says:

    Legalize it! Use hemp and weed to it’s full potential! Clothes, fuel, hempcrete, medicine and recreational. Cayman needs to step away from ignorance and utilize what we have and what could have access to it would bring in more tourists and open up a whole new sector of business

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  34. Anonymous says:

    YES! FORWARD THINKING ! Capitalize on the dozen of uses of Weed and Hemp – from clothes to fuel for cars to medicine !

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  35. Anonymous says:

    There are many worse drugs than cannabis; legalise it for personal use and decriminalize it; many individuals are being hindered by a Police Clearance with weed consumption on it.

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    • Anonymous says:

      You need to make your mind up buddy. Either you want it legalized or decriminalized.

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      • Anonymous says:

        lmao are you dumb?

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        • Anonymous says:

          No i am not. It is currently legalized for medicinal purposes, but still very illegal to consume for recreational purposes. If it is legalized for personal use, there will be no need to decriminalize it.

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          • Anonymous says:

            I am not sure if the dumb person who asked you if you are dumb has any comprehension of the difference between legalise and decriminalise.

      • Not the OP says:

        Many do not understand the difference here! I used to prefer decriminalise but if government were to cut the black market prices to the public and regulate dealers then I would definitely lean towards legalise. But I don’t trust them. They’re habitually greedy and always looking ways for us to support their spending sprees!

  36. Born Caymanian says:

    The Holy Herb is not hurting anyone!

    Legalize it!

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    • Diogenes says:

      If harming people was the standard we held something to in order to ban or prohibit its use then alcohol, prescription opioids and cigarettes would have been banned ages ago

      The ban on cannabis has nothing to do with the the effects, it is simply banned to be banned
      and conservatives want to uphold the ban simply to uphold the ban and not because of any concrete or rational standard against drugs

      Diogenes

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      • Just sayin says:

        I am a conservative, believe in Jah, and I support legalizing ganja! I’ve met Liberals that want to uphold the ban. Government is their religion.

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