Archbishop of Port of Spain Jason Gordon says the cost of convicting marijuana users as criminals outweigh any possible benefits. He also says he does not support the use of recreational marijuana.
He also said while he felt the recreational use of marijuana should be prohibited, he encouraged medical marijuana research.
“Let’s harvest medical marijuana and do the research and be evidence-based. Recreational marijuana is very different. These are two separate issues.”
Gordon made the remarks during his contribution to a virtual discussion on the decriminalization of marijuana in TT, hosted by the Catholic Commission for Social Justice on Friday.
Recalling his own experience in counseling marijuana users, Gordon said he has seen firsthand the debilitating effects of the drug on a person’s physical and psychological well-being.
He asserted that the solution for smokers was social and medical treatment rather than arrest and conviction which he said would come at a greater cost to society.
“The poor black male is the most vulnerable, putting him in prison for the possession of marijuana, how does that benefit anyone, either to the user or the society?”
“I encourage us to support addiction counseling and the expansion of drug courts. They (smokers) should not have a criminal record but they should have social support. They should be reintegrated into society to be someone who deals with their life. The stigma of use should not translate into prison and (criminal) graduation.
During her contribution, Dr. Christine Descartes of the department of Behavioural Sciences of the University of the West Indies (UWI) outlined the negative impacts of marijuana use and urged policy-makers to be mindful of these factors when drafting legislation to govern the distribution of the drug.
Citing research published in the US, Descartes said there was sufficient evidence to suggest a correlation between recreational marijuana use and negative behavior.
She said poor decision-making for young adults could mean lifelong regrets and warned legislators to consider these factors before finalizing their decision.
“If you really think about the effects of this drug coming into a child, literally hijacking the brains. Can you just imagine what this person might be going through?
“Just to touch on one of the risky behaviors, there is an undeniable correlation between risky sexual behaviors and marijuana use. Multiple partners, high rates of partner change, and many researchers acknowledge this correlation.
“It causes those sensory alterations along with feelings of calmness and relaxation which increases the person’s willingness to engage in sexual impulses.”