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Home Features They aren’t foolish about weed in the land where it was born

They aren’t foolish about weed in the land where it was born

Marijuana, like many other plants – mango, our “blackberry”, the multi-use coconut — was planted by God in Asia, and we got it (and them) from India when people from that area of the world came to our side. All those plants are blessings from above, but one has been maligned by man because, they say, they have love and want to protect weak men from deadly, toxic smoke.

Of course, the maligned one I’m talking about is weed, and the way some men run it down, you’d believe the label on its roots says, “Made by the one with the fork.”

I’ve noted that all people have holes in their heads, and there is a madabig one in the heads of some of our religious right about weed. They opposed the decriminalization of 10 grams, and they want a referendum on legalization, which means that they APPROVE the old law which said jail for anyone found with it.

There is NO yield in these quarters on the old status quo, and the straight line conclusion from that is that they support incarceration, they support the risk of dangerous marijuana contamination, they support the cost of weed being driven up, and they support the formation of gangs and heinous murders over turf. Let’s not be blind here. That is the state of affairs in the world of ILLEGAL marijuana.

Whoa, we know the members of our religious right aren’t evil. Properly they should be described as neglectful of taking the time out to find the truth.

Eating too many mangoes can give you colic, imbibing too much blackberry wine can make you foolish drunk, you can actually drink too much coconut water, and weed, we all know that young people shouldn’t smoke it, and adults who love it are not the best company for guys who love rum.

No law is worth the paper it’s printed on if the people don’t believe in it. The Belizean people would never vote for marijuana prohibition. In the place where weed was born, the people know it’s not the reason for their caste system, and not the reason for their country splitting into India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

In the story, “How did marijuana become illegal in India?” Manavi Kapur says the plant “grows well, like a weed, especially in the Himalayan states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. It is ubiquitous, a part of local cultures across the country, almost as if existing in a parallel universe.” Kapur says Indians have been smoking up for thousands of years, and association of the herb with “crimes, and by extension social stigma, is actually an import from the US.”

Kapur, in his story, says: “Though India opposed the classification of cannabis alongside hard drugs during the 1961 Convention on Narcotic Drugs”, it eventually buckled under the pressure in 1985. “This was the Cold War era, and India needed the US as an ally and access to American technology,” explains Kartik Ganapathy, senior and founding partner, IndusLaw. However, when the Indians capitulated to the Americans, they did not yield the leaves. The fruit and flower of weed have been criminalized, but the leaves, which are used in a sacred paste called bhang, are safe from the philistines.

Kapur said the Indian government reported that 31 million people, 2.8% of India’s population, reported some use of the drug in 2018. Really, it’s not a case like everybody is out to smoke weed. In village life, weed is always around, but as far as I can see, the only people in my village who are interested in it are some males in the 18 to 40 group. In the decades I’ve lived in Camalote, I’ve only known three young men who seemed impaired by weed, and they were also heavy on crack.

Turning across the road is Belize’s most dangerous manoeuver

It would be interesting if numbers were presented to this nation about the number of RTAs each year that involve a truck, a car, a bus, a motorcycle, a bicycle turning across the flow of traffic on a highway. The loss of lives is tragic, and the cost/loss to our nation from injuries to limbs and destruction of vehicles is huge.

The way the law stands, if you are traveling on the highway and a motorist is coming behind you, you should pull off the highway and wait until all trailing traffic is out of sight. Earlier this month, there was a smash-up in my village involving a bus and a car, when the car turned across the highway, and there was an RTA in the north involving the same manoeuver. In the accident up north, I think a life was lost.

Of course, no one should turn across the highway when a vehicle is coming from the opposite direction, but it does happen. Such accidents are sometimes caused by bad judgment, or impaired drivers. The main cause for this type of accident is speeding. There are people who don’t respect the speed limits in populated areas. We all understand that 15mph and 25mph are really slow, but if you exceed them, you have to be on your toes, because it’s high risk driving in villages. People who play simple and drive on roads through villages as if they are on the highways should get the book. Speeding in populated areas should not be tolerated.

The Transport Ministry has known for years that turning across the highway is the cause of many accidents in Belize. We are very slack with the collection of basic statistics, but this matter is glaring; it has happened so many times that every person who gets behind a wheel or has any involvement with traffic regulations is aware that we have a problem here. Oh my, here comes a story about an elder in the south crossing the road on a bicycle and getting run over by a van.

We have a problem with enforcement, and maybe the Traffic Department needs to hire some people. It’s important to be practical. Our country flat out can’t afford all these accidents.

Driving motorcycles and riding bicycles shouldn’t be so dangerous. The latter, besides being convenient transport for people who live within five miles of their workplace or other destination, is excellent for good health, and both are “the poor man’s motorcar.” Congratulations to Julius and the Ministry of Infrastructure for clearly defining side paths for bicyclists on the highway that passes through Camalote and Roaring Creek.

The specific law governing driving on the highway should be revisited, and after reviewing the laws, there has to be a massive education campaign to get motorists up to date. If they insist on sticking with the antiquated law, they still have to invest in educating users of the road. The fact is that there are too many tragedies on our highways. Just read the newspapers and watch/listen to the news, and you’ll know that turning across the road is big trouble.

A PAHO report, “Estimation of the Economic Impact of Road Traffic Injuries in Belize”, says that in 2007 sixty three persons died in RTAs, 338 persons were hospitalized, and 565 persons were slightly injured. PAHO computed, based on those figures, that 2,501 years of potential life were lost, and, using the minimum wage and the average income, extrapolated that our country suffered a total economic loss of BZ$31,966, 045 — 1.26% of our GDP.

If I’m not missing anything, this research deals solely with RTIs (Road Traffic Injuries), so equipment loss wasn’t factored in. Also, I didn’t see hospital costs, and I don’t know how they calculated time and capacity lost from injuries, if they did.

Too many accidents are being caused when drivers left-turn across the road. The message has to be made clear, and drivers who don’t comply have to be made to get the sense.

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