The destruction of the minds of young people must not become a pillion rider to the fast-moving motorcycle that is the blossoming medicinal cannabis industry in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).
Chief Executive Officer of the Medicinal Cannabis Authority (MCA), Dr Jerrol Thompson said that concern for the mental wellness of the nation’s youths, as it relates to marijuana use, remains firmly positioned at the forefront of all discussions regarding the “fall out/side effects” of the new industry.
Thompson was a guest last Wednesday on SEARCHLIGHT’S online discussion programme, The Press Room, where the medicinal cannabis industry was being discussed.
Along wit0h agriculture minister, Saboto Caesar, Thompson said that there was no doubt that the industry was needed and the positives far outweighed the possible negative fallout’s.
He conceded that the de-penalization of marijuana use can prompt youths to be more prone to using and abusing the herb, which can be very dangerous “in terms of young persons, whose brains are not fully developed.”
Thompson, a specialist in Internal Medicine cautioned that cases of acute psychosis related to marijuana use especially in young people, even more so when there is a history of mental illness in their family, is a real issue that his team at the MCA has committed to work along with the various stakeholders to mitigate against it.
He said that the MCA has already begun to have interactions with the police, education stakeholders and the mental health sector to formulate aggressive
and continuous educational programs aimed at dissuading youths from the harmful choice of marijuana abuse in this new dispensation.
“We are looking to roll out talks in schools,” Thompson said. He noted that cannabis is not known to cause death or act as a gateway drug, “as a matter of fact cannabis is being used in other parts of the world to get people off the harder drugs,” but use of cannabis with extra high THC (the main psychoactive compound in marijuana), “has the potential to trip them off.”
Minister Caesar added that part of the build up to the passage of the Drug (prevention of misuse) Amendment Act 2018 and the promotion of the medicinal cannabis industry, included consultation with the faith-based community and a promise was made to protect the nation’s youths and this is a responsibility that the government takes very seriously.
Thompson noted that this concern is one of the main reasons that during the political back and fro on the issue of the industry, he vehemently objected to the push for the allowance of backyard cannabis production. He said the industry needs to be strictly regulated to limit the possibility of misuse and abuse.
The opening of the first cannabis consumption lounge last week Friday, has attracted comments that the new face of the industry is for people who have money and others lower down the proverbial financial totem poll will only be observers.