Our Readers' Opinions
September 20, 2013

Cannabis, a wrongly prosecuted plant

Fri Sep 20, 2013

Editor: What most people know about cannabis, aka marijuana, is that they were born in a world where the American government leads the way in levelling prosecution of the plant. Most people have no personal experience with marijuana. Most people have no personal eye witness accounts of the effects of cannabis (medicinal or hallucinogenic) from which to draw on to testify to the effects of cannabis on the human body.{{more}}

Most people don’t know that the human body produces cannabinoids, a class of diverse chemical compounds that activate cannabinoid receptors on cells that repress neurotransmitter release in the brain. These receptor proteins include the endocannabinoids (produced naturally in the body by humans and animals), the phytocannabinoids (found in cannabis and some other plants), and synthetic cannabinoids (produced chemically by humans). The most notable cannabinoid is the phytocannabinoid 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive compound of cannabis. These receptor proteins have a host of positive effects on living tissue.

Most people are acutely ignorant to the fact that cannabis is recorded as one of the oldest positive medicinal plants used on the planet. Most people don’t know that, ironically, the United States is among the top six countries in the world leading the way in cannabis research. The other five top countries spearheading cannabis research are Canada, Israel, Czech Republic, United Kingdom and The Netherlands.

Sure enough, patent number 6,630,507 states unequivocally that cannabinoids are useful in the prevention and treatment of a wide variety of diseases including auto-immune disorders, stroke, trauma, Parkinson’s, Alzeheimer’s and HIV dementia. The patent, awarded in 2003, is based on research done by the National Institute of Health, and is assigned to the US Dept. of Health and Human Services. So while the US prosecutes private citizens for possession and consumption of marijuana that government is readying to profit from sale of substances present in the plant.

That the US is working feverishly to patent substances originating from marijuana makes complete sense. Worldwide how many people die of overdose of cannabis? Answer, zero. Previously the US position on marijuana was that the plant contained no medicinal or useful purposes. That position is now dying as logic and research taking centre stage around this wrongly prosecuted plant.

Of course people like Senior Counsel Israel Khan and Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal of Trinidad and Tobago echo the views of Member of Parliament for North West St Ann Dr Dayton Campbell on decriminalization of cannabis. They, too, don’t want marijuana decriminalized, or better, legalized. After all, the greater the number of instances of illegal this or that thing or behaviour, the greater the demand for the “services” of legal people. Taking away probation laws on marijuana means taking away demand for legal representation in court for simple possession or use of cannabis, which means taking away a strong source of revenue from judicial workers. Simple possession or use of cannabis is the largest market of cases connected to drugs in Jamaica’s legal system. Jamaica’s judicial workers want to “eat ah food” too. So, some in the judicial system will protect their revenue streams at all costs.

How many marijuana patents has Jamaica filed? How many marijuana patents does Jamaica own? None. Jamaica is a wait and see country, just like Trinidad and Tobago. These countries import all of their technology and sell these to their own people at grossly inflated prices, confident that to do so is profitable to the country. They don’t do anything as radical or as useful as research and development (R&D) to have cause to file for patents. Trinidad and Tobago relies on monetisation of energy resources to pay for imported end products of R&D manufactured by other countries. Jamaica relies on money from the IMF and other lending agencies. Leading the way in removing the shackles from marijuana is St Vincent and the Grenadines.

B Joseph