FORMER MP and administrator at New Life Ministries drug rehabilitation centre Hulsie Bhaggan has warned that students are turning up at school high. She made the comment in the context of a fall out from the recent decision by the state to decriminalise marijuana.
Bhaggan was speaking Monday at an International Women’s Day breakfast meeting panel discussion on gambling and addiction held at the Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain, at which the former MP expressed concern over the decriminalisation of the drug, and its use by school children..
She said with the decriminalisation of cannabis there is an epidemic among young people using cannabis.
“So in the school system it is a mess because a lot of young people are turning up in school high,” she said.
They are using their stuff before they come to school and when they are home it is freely available at their homes and they are using. So how will teachers be able to reach these kids if they are constantly high?”
She added: “So even though we talk decriminalisation we have not done that. We have ‘legalised’ marijuana.”
She said the legal possession limit of 30 grammes is a lot and there could be a party where everyone turned up with 30 grammes.
“So that is an issue we also need to look at...(because) gambling is not the only social evil. It is sometimes a combination. But it is as if we are creating a nation of addicts. They are doing everything possible to create a nation of addicts.”
Bhaggan said alcohol is legal and there was the thinking that since alcohol is legal then marijuana should be legalised as well.
“The fact is we should have learned from the legalisation of alcohol, the destruction it has brought to our society and to the world at large, all the social evils.”
She said the health system is burdened due to effects of alcohol on the human body. She added when people died the doctors would not say it was “from alcohol” but cirrhosis of liver, cancer of the stomach, motor car accidents or domestic violence.
“You know (with) many of those women who are being killed we should test the guys who have been brought in. What have they been on? The majority would have been on alcohol and marijuana.”
She said the people who are walking the streets and are mentally ill are not cocaine users but marijuana addicts and she noted there is something called marijuana-induced psychosis.
“And the majority of people who are in St Ann’s didn’t go there because of cocaine. I am not of course glorifying cocaine, but I am just telling you that this so-called ‘herb’ is dangerous.” Bhaggan said there are women with their families who are smoking and pushing cannabis and their children have easy access to it.
She said that addiction takes many forms including: shopping where people max out their credit cards and buy things they don’t need; cellphones where they spend all day on social media; caffeine where people get headaches if they don’t have their coffee and they are irritable at work; exercise where they spend hours at the gym; food where people eat for comfort; the internet; nicotine; parties where people cannot be happy when they are alone; to a person where you would even breach a court protection order to get to them to a certain place; pornography where teenagers are up all night watching it; television; work; and prescription drugs.
She recalled three people came to the centre, including one doctor, who were taking 16 pills of the sleeping aid Ambien per day.