To Jamal Pringle – regarding the comments you made on cannabis.
It is with regret I want to tell you, your recent comments in parliament regarding cannabis as far as I can see, were nothing short of political suicide. If you are attempting to sabotage your political party, you are on the right track to do so.
Firstly, I want to ask if you are a doctor? Are you basing these comments on medical knowledge or studies that have been carried out in Antigua? Or are you simply digging deep in your back pocket for an insult to throw at Gaston Browne or the ABLP administration? Because I can think of far more sophisticated and intelligent ways to do so. There appears to be no shortage of political failures from the current administration, so you really didn’t need to reach to the depths of the barrel and pull out Gaston’s ‘4 tree allowance’ policy.
From someone, and I believe I speak for many, who are disgusted on a daily basis with what is happening in Antigua and to Antiguans on so many levels, the ‘4 tree policy’ is about the only thing that has offered us some freedom, especially in a time when many of our other freedoms have been stripped from us.
It is estimated that up to 80% of Antigua uses cannabis in some form. 20 years ago mental health was not on the forefront of issues, Antiguan’s were not struggling as much as they are now financially, and you would get 5 spliffs for $10. Nowadays, you are lucky if you get one spliff for $10. Your attempt to blame us being allowed to have 4 cannabis trees in our yards on an increased mental health breakdown is unsubstantiated given facts combined with basic common sense and history of cannabis in our nation. You would have been far better to speculate that if, and I say IF, cannabis is harming the youths, why is it that they are abusing it? Why is not being used a meditative tool to expand one’s mind? You only have to read the comments on the Antigua News Room article to hear people crying out that weed helps them cope with stress, with the sad fact of a struggling economy, lack of jobs and limited prospects. You could also speculate, as I do, that the imported cannabis that most people smoke is grown unnaturally with chemicals, therefore creating more problems for those who smoke. I can say that as I am aware imported kush does not agree with me, I chose locally grown organic wadadli.
I am not a biased or ignorantly advocating for cannabis. I am an educated user of cannabis and its derivatives. I know my limits. I know when I am abusing it and when I am not. I have smoked morning until night in times of stress and grief, I chose that over pharmaceutical antidepressants, and it served me well. I chose to eat and drink it for medical reasons, I chose to smoke it in moderation for relaxation and mental inspiration. I am also someone with relative experience and knowledge of mental health. I am also an Antiguan with common sense and a lot of experience in the cultural matter of cannabis.
So Mr Pringle, let me educate you on what I do know, that you seem ignorant to.
Statistics in the US show that 1 in 20 people suffer from a variety of mental health issues. It is also worth mentioning that 13% of people who had no reported mental health problems prior to Covid are now reporting mental health issues.
Now, let’s talk about Schizophrenia. This is something that affects as many as 1 in 100 people. And the most common mental health disease with many studies conducted on what effects cannabis use may have on it, and what I can only imagine is the reference you were trying to draw in your deficient parliament rant. It is not new news that THC (cannabis grown to get you ‘high’ – just in case you are unaware of the different types of cannabis) has been shown to have an exacerbating effect on schizophrenia symptoms. Meaning it can make the disease worse, or trigger the disease to show itself. It does not cause it. You have to have the disease first. Studies also show that CBD (cannabis that does not get you high) has the potential to alleviate symptoms and help those that suffer from schizophrenia. Among schizophrenics and psychotic patients, a mere 16% are cannabis users.
But, Mr Pringle, my main gripe with your inane comments is the fact you raise the issue of mental health, and it seems as though you used it as political leverage to gain the support from those who are anti-cannabis. Had it not been another cheap political play, you may have addressed the biggest contributors to a decline into the mental health of our nation. It is no secret that the largest contributor to any mental health crisis is some form of trauma. Childhood traumas, abuse and neglect. This is the direction any mental health conversation needs to go. How to stop children suffering in Antigua. How to support parents so their children can have a good upbringing. How to create an economy that works for Antiguans. Let us start there!
The small mention of education was just about the only thing of value you said. Shame you did not elaborate on that. I fear your lack of education in regards to cannabis and the lack of cannabis knowledge of your political party’s running mates will stand in the way of the UPP getting elected. And I say fear because we Antiguans are in desperate need of a change. Not a change in political party, as far as I am concerned you are all cut from the same cloth. I mean an economic change. Covid has shown us that tourism is too volatile, so what is next? Well, if we had some politicians who were for the people instead of themselves, it is not far-fetched to think a thriving cannabis industry could outdo any comeback tourism could ever make. You only have to look at states and countries who have legalized it to see that it is possible. Currently, the license fees and lack of inclusion for locals in the discussions of a cannabis industry are hindering our prospects. We want to hear what changes will be made. What are the UPP’s plans for the cannabis industry? UPP failed to legalize cannabis before, voters ran to ABLP to get it done. And yet your comments show you have not learnt.
Your baseless attack showed a real pettiness that we, the Antiguan people, are quite frankly sick and tired of. In fact, it made me get off facebook, put my phone down, and roll a spliff in an attempt to counteract the unintelligent politics I find stressing me out on a daily basis. Please do better. Educate yourself and come better!
Sincerely, an Antiguan wanting real change in politics as well as a thriving cannabis industry of our own.