Seepersad: Help marijuana addicts

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

File photo.

INDEPENDENT Senator Cherrise Seepersad said the Cannabis Control Bill 2020 needed more work. as it did not provide medical help for users who were addicted to marijuana.

She was speaking in the Senate on Tuesday.

“Madam President, cannabis is an addictive drug and can be abused by users,” she said. “The legislation before us does not provide sufficient scope and detail on medical treatment for addiction. It is my view this is a necessary bill which requires more work and considerable effort to become fully operational and achieve its intended potential.”

She urged a public information campaign for both the public and law-enforcement personnel, and said such a campaign cannot be a one-off, but must be ongoing.

Seepersad urged a system of tracking cannabis “from seed to sale” involving the use of radio frequency identification and weighing crops at each stage of production.

“The main goal of the system is to prevent cannabis sales to minors and counter the black market.”

She listed health benefits to be derived from cannabis, including helping mood, plus the digestive, cardiovascular and and immune systems.

“However, as with any drug the potential for misuse and unwanted and harmful side effects is ever-present.

“These include impaired driving, increased risk of stroke, brain changes, and mental illnesses including stroke (sic).

“Edible cannabis products such as cookies, chocolate and candies, have dangerous side effects for children. There needs to be further strengthening of the legislation to protect children in this regard.”

Seepersad also called for a close eye to be kept on pharmacies which will dispense cannabis, saying some now freely dispense regulated substances which require prescriptions, but “do so without any sanctions from the authorities.”

Earlier she said the legal cannabis industry in Latin America and the Caribbean was now worth US$20 million and was projected to grow to US$500 million (according to a website, Prohibition Partners), with an estimated market of 35 million people. She reckoned Trinidad and Tobago could see 200,000 jobs in the sector, based on available land providing ten jobs per acre of cannabis cultivated.

Seepersad said Forbes magazine predicted the global cannabis market could grow from US$28 billion in 2021 to US$197 billion in 2028. The US market was set to grow from $100 billion this year to $158 billion in 2026. Jobs in the US cannabis industry were projected to grow from 520,000 jobs now to 800,000 in 2026, she said.