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Rehabilitate, not legalise*

Archbishop on marijuana issue

By Kaelanne Jordan,

Archbishop Jason Gordon again reiterated that while he is not in favour of persons being criminalised for marijuana use; he also does not agree that it’s “okay” to smoke marijuana.

“…Okay to smoke is legalising it. That’s a different thing. I’m dead against legalising it. I’m for the understanding that if someone is caught smoking marijuana, rather than a criminal offense, they go to a drug rehab…they do something for their rehabilitation because marijuana is not the innocent drug that people make it out to be,” Archbishop Gordon said during his first instalment of Catholic Media Services Limited’s (CAMSEL) Ask the Archbishop live chat 2019, Wednesday, February 13. You can view the live stream here on the ‘Archdiocese of Port of Spain’ Facebook page.

The Archbishop added that he has worked with quite a few young persons who were charged for marijuana offenses. He said he got them to go into rehab, do community service, get counselling and the necessary work “before the case comes up so that the judge could see that this person who never had a charge before is reformed and be able to be lenient on them.” He had previously addressed the topic in his weekly column ‘Conversations with Archbishop J’,  September 2018.

Continuing the discourse, Archbishop Gordon observed that many kids with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and anxiety consume marijuana for self-medicating persons. He believed that this in itself is a “problem” as there is the possibility of addiction.

“When a teenage boy smokes marijuana, it drops the levels of his testosterone. Testosterone is what the teenage boy needs to go out and conquer the world, to do well in exams, to do well in sports, to do well in whatever he’s doing. It’s the testosterone that drives him to excellence. When you drop the level of testosterone, what you have is a soft male who is now reactive and not proactive. And anything that he was proactive in before, you would see his achievement levels dropping….” Archbishop Gordon said.

The Archbishop said that to “allow” young males to consume marijuana suggests that parents are “okay” with them not becoming the best version of themselves.

He however acknowledged that there are opioids which can be useful for drugs and pharmaceuticals but suggested a licensed lab to extract the useful components and licensed people to grow marijuana.

“And that’s how a lot of the painkillers are done…We can do that also for the medical use of marijuana, licensed clinics,” he said. He cited morphine as an example. National public consultations are currently being held between the government and stakeholders on the decriminalisation of marijuana.

On a lighter topic, the Archbishop was asked of his plans for Valentine’s Day and Carnival. He told Digital Media Manager, Tracy Chimming- Lewis that he was still in the process of figuring out what kind of flowers to buy for his special Valentine. “So I’m not allowed to have a Valentine?” he joked.

The Archbishop revealed to a curious Chimming- Lewis that his Valentine is Mary.

He also shared that he hasn’t quite made up his mind on plans for Carnival.

The Archbishop did mention that the noise level around Archbishop’s House (located around the Queen’s Park Savannah) has been “crazy”. He spoke of one fete that caused him to use noise-cancelling headphones.

“But that didn’t stop the vibration of the house,” he said.

When asked if there was any particular song he is enjoying for the season, Archbishop Gordon replied Aaron Duncan’s ‘Back to Basics’ is “brilliant”. “The beat is very contemporary”, he said.