PRAYER ALERT: The government of Belize has appointed a committee to consider decriminalizing marijuana. It consists of eight people headed by former Police Minister Douglas Singh Two of these eight members are admitted marijuana users. The committee notified the public on Monday night that we would only have four days to give our feedback on their proposal. The deadline is today, Friday, July 20. We must ask, why the haste for decriminalizing marijuana? It is proven to impair learning, memory and driving ability. It also causes cancer, and can harm children of users.
Contrary to claims that decriminalizing marijuana would be relatively harmless, Wikipedia reports:
–Lab studies showing serious effects on driving skills. These include “impairments in tracking, attention, reaction time, short-term memory, hand-eye coordination, vigilance, time and distance perception, and decision making and concentration.”
–A 2008 review that concluded that marijuana actually did “impair all aspects of short-term memory. This applies especially to short-term episodic and working memory. One small study found that no learning occurred during the 2 hour period in which the subjects (infrequent users) were ‘stoned.’”
– Serious effects on children of users. “Some studies have found that children of tobacco and marijuana-smoking mothers more frequently suffer from permanent cognitive deficits, concentration disorders, hyperactivity, and impaired social interactions.”
–A study in the journal Cancer March 15, 2009, “linked long-term use of cannabis to an increased risk of 70 percent for testicular cancer with the scientists concluding that cannabis is harmful to the human endocrine and reproductive system.”
–The BEACH study at the University of Sydney found that “of the number of patients who mentioned cannabis use to their GP [General Practitioner], 48% had a psychological problem, including 19% with depression, 9% with psychosis and 6% had anxiety”–much higher than non-users.
In the July 18 issue of Amandala, the government of Belize gives the rationale for its proposal. “Current legislation treats the possession of under 60 grams of marijuana as a criminal offense and is punishable by a fine of up to $50,000 and/or up to three years imprisonment…This proposal is to decriminalize the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana, which will then be subject to fines, mandatory drug education and no imprisonment.” Furthermore, “current legislation clutters the courts and the prison.” And a conviction would carry a permanent criminal record that would be “a barrier against meaningful employment.”
Is it possible to reduce the penalties for use of small amounts of marijuana and at the same time alert the public—and especially children and youth—to its dangers? We certainly do not want to see marijuana smoke become a common atmosphere in the public life of Belize. It would distract people’s attention. It would affect their decision-making and concentration. Many more people would develop the habit as a result. They would suffer the serious health effects listed above, including more cancer and car accidents. Let’s pray for God’s wise judgment on decriminalizing marijuana to prevail.
PRAY WITH US: Father God, You are our highest joy and our deepest peace. We seek Your will on this issue of decriminalizing marijuana. We pray for marijuana users who are seeking peace from stress in their lives. They are seeking a joy they don’t find elsewhere. We grieve with Your Holy Spirit that they are finding a false and temporary joy and peace in marijuana. It prevents them from finding joy and peace in You. It impairs their memory and learning and health and judgment. It leads to cancer and disease and car accidents and more drug use and more evils. We ask that You would show us how to alert all Belizeans to the dangers of decriminalizing marijuana. We ask You to show the government the right penalties to match the crimes. We ask that You show the government how to justly enforce the law and to effectively discourage further drug use. We ask You to cause Your Holy Spirit to increase and marijuana smoke to decrease in Belize. We ask that You would turn children away from ever beginning this habit. We ask that You deliver more and more users from this habit and use their testimonies to deliver others. We ask most of all for outpouring after outpouring of Your amazing love, joy and peace, to which nothing else can compare. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Decriminalizing marijuana is a step in the wrong direction