he marijuana trade is big business in Belize!
The empirical evidence seems to suggest that more than 30 percent of the population currently use or have used marijuana as a recreational drug. A sizable portion of that average use marijuana on a daily basis, as a stimulant, and are addicted to it.
The notion of de-criminalizing marijuana use in Belize is not new. Many respected people in our community have spoken out in favour, for various compelling reasons.
Among these, we have heard the arguments:
1. That the law causes unfair discriminates against people who use small quantities for medicinal or recreational purposes and makes criminals of them;
2. That the law disproportionately hurts the poorer strata of the population while more affluent users find ways to ignore or circumvent it;
3. That the marijuana trade and the repressive marijuana law are the principal cause of territorial gang violence in Belize City and elsewhere;
4. That the strictures against marijuana use are causing our courts and our jail to become cluttered with offenders who are doing nothing more than wanting to gratify their urge to smoke.
Against these arguments are the traditional documented medical evidence:
1.That marijuana is mind-blowing and habit -forming.
2.That persistent marijuana use will affect one’s mental health, especially the mental health of young people;
3. That marijuana use breaks down inhibitions and leads to destabilizing and sometimes violent addictions which are not easily cured;
4. That marijuana is a significant component of the drug trade in Belize, and the drug trade is the greatest scourge our society has had to face.
By listing these arguments both for and against the liberation of marijuana use, we wish to draw attention to the complicated nature of the discussion. The Government’s proposal to lighten-up and cut marijuana users some slack is a proposition which needs to be studied with care and discussed in depth, but it is impossible to do this before the deadline established by the committee, which is Friday, July 20.
The Committee and its Chair must resist the temptation to take the opinions of the people of Belize for granted, or to assume that they are too indifferent to care.
The voters of Belize care passionately about what the government is doing, and they must be given adequate time and opportunity to respond to new initiatives, especially on matters which are sure to have an impact on their lives.