Yesterday the Senate passed the amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Act which decriminalizes ten grams or less of marijuana. The amendment does not legalize marijuana but at yesterday’s Senate sitting, there was much debate over the piece of legislation. Here is how that went.
Mark Lizarraga, Senator: “And the quote is “from average intelligence to the lowest third of the intelligence range there is an established link between adolescent pot smoking and psychosis.” Recently Mr. President research presented at the Berlin Psychiatric Conference showed that teenage use of cannabis hastens the onset of schizophrenia. What we have seen in our country, what we’ve seen happening in our country among our youths on the streets, increase marijuana use and aggressive and delinquent behaviors should sincerely cause us to do some deeper analysis before embracing this and any changes in law without more serious and much more comprehensive analysis. This bill effectively does make it easier for our youths to access drugs.”
Michael Peyrefitte, Senator: “Who paid for those studies? I would not be surprised Mr. President if they were paid for by tobacco companies or pharmaceutical companies that want to rail against marijuana because they don’t want any competition. Mr. President no proof has been provided to me in my extensive work done on this bill that demonstrates to me that marijuana is any more dangerous than the already legal drugs that I currently use. All we are saying is that you have people who don’t want to smoke cigarettes, don’t want to smoke cigars, and don’t want to drink alcohol they prefer to smoke marijuana. Why is there such hatred for people who want that particular drug? Because they’re all drugs, they’re all drugs and the more dangerous ones are actually legal. So all we are saying is that we are not even making the least dangerous one legal we are making it only legal in certain circumstances.”
Aldo Salazar, Senator: “On the premise that I mentioned that the decriminalization of marijuana will somehow lead to greater use is not true because the example of Colorado in the United States where the state government contrary to the federal rules has legalized marijuana they have noted since 2013 that there is a drop in the use of marijuana among youth. In fact, Colorado is below the national average for marijuana use in the United States and that is a study that I looked at.”
Valerie Woods, Senator: “Why I cannot in good principle support a bill that is doing more than what it set out to do is because it goes against the very principle of a responsible government, it goes against the principle of ensuring that we do the proper research and gather all the data and educate and provide the discourse and set up the enabling environment for the other aspects of the bill. Not for the lessening of penalties. I thought that could have been a straightforward discussion.”
Ashley Rocke, Senator: “As it relates to the church and its position on the issues of drugs we cannot support that change. We understand in principle what you are trying to do and accomplish but the question is ‘was there other ways in which this could have been done?’ rather than giving the smokers the leeway to smoke and so we the church we feel like we have a moral and a spiritual responsibility to our Belizean brothers to say that this may be that we are going down the wrong way.”