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Jun 4, 1999

G. Michael Reid on Drug Abuse

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Tonight on the Last Word commentator G. Michael Reid looks at drug abuse, but he doesn’t confine his thoughts to crack or marijuana. He says we must remember that the legal substances so many of us use on a regular basis are also potential lethal weapons.

“This passing week was observed in Belize as drug awareness week and in solidarity, many Belizeans tacked on their yellow ribbons. This years theme, “Families and Communities United to Build a Drug Free Belize”. A drug is defined as any substance taken internally, other than food, that changes the way the body or mind functions and this includes, not only illicit drugs like cocaine and marijuana, but also alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, prescription and some quite ordinary over the counter medication. This would seem to make this year’s theme then, a bit overzealous but of course we know that the National Drug Council means to address abuse rather than regular use.

The real truth of the matter is that drugs have been around since time immemorial and will most likely be around long after those who are fighting to

prevent its use are gone. Advance medical tests conducted on mummies found in ancient Egypt reveals that way back then, humans were guilty of using not only liquor and tobacco, but also marijuana and even cocaine. Incidentally, the very

popular Coca-Cola, which we consume on a daily basis, got its name from this drug which was in fact a key ingredient until laws were declared that forced the company to change the formula. As one might imagine, not everyone was happy with the change and it took many years of innovative advertising before

everything, once again, went better with Coke. Interestingly enough, the most disgruntled of consumers were little old ladies who had become quite accustomed to their daily refreshing stimulant and did someone say addiction?

Of course, the old folks have a saying, that too much of anything, no good fu nuthing and this is especially true when it comes to drugs. The use of drugs

and even drug abuse is not limited to any one segment of society but in fact, spans the entire spectrum; from the homeless and unemployed to those in the

high echelons of society. The fact that only those who cant afford to pay

for legal counsel normally wind up in jail, exposes hypocrisy and a fundamental reason why we continue to lose the war on drugs and why drug related crimes persist unabated. A young man is caught with a joint and is sent to jail on

a first offense while others are caught red handed with boatloads of narcotics and are allowed to walk free. The young man comes out of jail bitter and forever branded a criminal, while the big fish are allowed to continue their

ominous trade and make back the few dollars they are set back, even before little junior has settled in his jail cell.

Now of course, maybe I should make it clear at this point that this is not an

endorsement of drug use and I speak categorically and empirically

when I say that the best one can do when confronted with this demon is to just say no. Drugs have done much damage to our society and many a bright star has fallen as a result of its abuse. Jimmy Hendrix, Elvis Presley, Janis Joplin just to name a few, and many believe that had Diana’s chauffeur been sober, England’s

Rose might still be blooming today. The point is however, that we will never solve the problem of drugs by punishing only some and allowing those most guilty to escape. Of course, we in Belize are blessed to the extent that our problems with drugs are confined primarily to tobacco, alcohol, marijuana and cocaine.

Interestingly enough, while only two of these are illegal, the other two

causes infinitely more deaths per year. Tobacco use kills millions each year and drunk drivers kill countless more, yet these two poisons can easily be

bought at just about any store in town. Cocaine I believe, to be one of the

worst scourges of mankind but marijuana on the other hand, might not be quite the menace that it is made out to be. Marijuana has been clinically proven to offer relief to a wide range of maladies including Glaucoma, Asthma, Epilepsy,

Migraine headaches, Depression and Emphysema. In many countries, small qualities of marijuana have always been legal and even Uncle Sam who holds us to

such a stringent tolerance, turns a blind eye to quantities less than an ounce

and some states have even legalized its use for medicinal purposes. The best reason that I have heard so far as to why one should not use marijuana is that it makes dreamers of potential achievers. This might indeed be true, though

many artist maintain that it allows them to create and express ideas and feeling

that they could never do without its use, and the debate rages on perpetually.

One thing that has been proven for sure, and that is that alcohol is infinitely more detrimental to society than marijuana. Just last week, 24 year old Christina Reyes joined the many victims who have lost their lives at the hand of drunk drivers. It would seem that if any of these two substances should be illegal, it would make more sense for it to be alcohol.

With the Last Word, G. Michael Reid.”

The views expressed on the last word are those of G. Michael Reid and not necessarily those of Channel Five. Viewer comments are welcome.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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