Medicinal cannabis may get support, but focus must be placed on education.
PHILIPSBURG:--- The delegation comprising of Roland Joe “Bushman” President of the Freedom Fighters Foundation, Jay Haviser, Dr. Dan Johnson and Arun Jagtiani gave the members of parliament a indebt presentation on cannabis and its usage especially its medical values. Bushman said Members of Parliament thought he would have taken a set of “rastamen” to parliament in order for them to legalize cannabis but instead he took professionals who did their research and have valuable information on the herb.
Dr. Johnson said cannibis cures several diseases such as epilepsy, diabetes, pain, hypertension, tumors, hepatitis, spinal cord diseases, and depression among other known chronic diseases that pharmaceutical medicines are not helping. He said as doctor in the United States of America he has been treating patients with medicinal cannabis that has no side effects.
So far some 37 countries the panelist said have decriminalized cannabis, while St. Maarten already did the same for a very small amount of the herb. Dr. Johnson said this herb have been known for its medicinal purposes since the 2900 BC which became more known in the 1850’s and then in 1978. Dr. Johnson said the largest group of doctors in the USA is now supporting the medical use of cannabis.
While Arun Jagtani in his presentation tried to show parliament how much monies can be made through the legalization of the herb, even if it’s for medical, recreational or as a tourism product. He showed Members of Parliament a statement made by a well known doctor Sanjay Gupta who also works for CNN where he admitted he did not enough research in the past on cannabis and its medical values.
While the panel took time to research and to open the door on St. Maarten to start a discussion on the legalization of cannabis. Several Members of Parliament were against it especially the recreational use of it since they said that there is not sufficient means on St. Maarten to control the sale and use of cannabis. MP Lloyd Richardson spoke of his work on the side with patients that suffer from the side effects of drug use, the amount of mental health patients on the island. He agreed that while the discussion has just started there is much more work to do and one has to see what has priority on St. Maarten. MP Richardson said St. Maarten would need labs to produce the medicines and to even measure the dosage.
MP Johan Janchi Leonard, a former police officer was very honest in his response when he said that for him the use of cannabis or any drugs is a no because as a police officer for over 40 years he fought the use of illegal drugs including cannabis. Leonard shared with the delegation that he has seen the effects that cannabis have on youths because his grandchildren are using it and he could see how aggressive they become, their demeanor and behavior haved changed and as a grandfather he is worried. However, he said that even though he is not a proponent of legalizing cannabis he believes that he could weigh in on the medical use of the herb.
MP Sarah Wescot Williams also said that one of the things that has to be done is to have a committee in place that could do much more research, she also said that government has to see what their priority is right now and to legalize cannabis it will cost government monies especially for the controlling.
MP Tamara Leonard was the only MP who believes that the timing for the legalization of cannabis is now because she herself still suffers from the side effects of pharmaceutical medications, but also got relief by using medicinal cannabis. She said that one of the things Roland Bushman has to do is continue to educate the people of St. Maarten, and to get a proper legislation in place which she will support wholeheartedly even though she believes that much more work has to be done on the recreational use of cannabis.
MP Maurice Lake also supported the medicinal use of cannabis and spoke of how he personally had to get some cannabis leaves to help a friend that is suffering from epilepsy. MP Theodore Heyliger also supported the medicinal use and a product for tourism, however, he did say much more work has to be done on the recreational use and education.
While MP Frans Richardson said that he had been discussing this for a very long time and anytime a proper legislation comes before parliament it will get his support. MP George Pantophlet was also a bit skeptical and does not know if the timing for the discussion is right. He said that there is so much that government has to focus on and indeed there must be more educational forums set up in order to educate the people.
In responding to some of the questions posed Roland Joe informed MP Leonard that cannabis a tree like any other tree. He said at any time government could say that they will criminalize any other herb such as basil while it’s a herb that almost everyone uses.
Jay Haviser said that their main goal is to legalize the medicinal use of cannabis and St. Maarten could easily built its own research center which would create jobs and at the same time produce its own medicine. He said based on what he heard from Members of Parliament it sounded a bit taboo since they do not know wmuch about the medicinal values of cannabis. He said it is properly packaged like any other medication. Dr. Haviser said soon enough that medicine will be imported while St. Maarten could make its own. He urged Parliament to look further into legalizing the medicinal cannabis while he does agree that much more work has to be done on the recreational aspect of the herb.