The first time I remember going to a doctor I was about 17, which I still am but that's another story, it was for chest pains. Dr. Griffin it was. He could find nothing wrong so my mother's conclusion 'it was just growing'. I cannot remember if I was given some placebo or the other. I remember in my tenth year we made "tooback" from Roseau Boy's School and went to see Windward Islands Cricket Tournament in the Gardens. There we were standing on that wall opposite the Power Station and having much fun pushing each other down into the sugar cane-like vegetation which grew inside the wall. Until. Somebody pushed me and I fell badly and a piece of wood pierced my "cort", excuse me my, side. I spent about three days at the hospital but cannot remember if they gave me any kind of drug.

Most of my life my mother doctored me. For every ailment there was a bush, a herb, a plant, a flower. I once heard urine was a good medicine but I never got the corresponding ailment. I remember there was a period in my youth when I woke up every night crying with earache. My mother was always there to soothe with her warm oil drops. There was always something natural or local to use without having to go to the drug store.

As life has expanded and different needs arose, other herbs outside those needed by my mother became known. There is a very prominent herb which I have found to be of good use especially when I am stressed over a period of time. It is a major natural relaxant. Over my many years I have never had to go to the store for Prozac, Xanax, Valium or any one of the multitude of drugs sold for stress and its related negatives. A mere puff every now again during those periods will relieve me of any negative thoughts or feelings I may have. I do not use if I do not need. Sometimes there are years between my puffs. For me the marijuana plant has important and specific uses.

Though we are supposedly an independent country we take our cue from others. A natural growing plant, which to many is a panacea, has been made to be the forbidden fruit. The United States is gradually legalizing the cultivation and use of marijuana or ganja for they know the criminalization of it is of cavemen mentality. There are now four or five states which have come into the twenty-first century. Soon the whole of the USA will have done the same. The USA is about money so the gradual easing of the laws gives their pharmaceutical companies time to make more money and to adjust for with the ready use of marijuana endless legal drugs will not sell.

Here is the big joke. Because of our stupidity we have allowed the US to manipulate us to kill our ganja growing. Soon we will be buying well packaged ganja from the United States. We will buy all kinds of drugs originating from the marijuana plant. How stupid we will feel. We were in the forefront. When we should have had our scientist working on that most versatile plant we were jailing them. I remember Jamaica burning two billion dollars worth of ganja at the end of 1986 or 87. We even allow the US to come and poison our lands to get rid of marijuana; now they growing it by the thousands of acres in hybrid.

Now, I see no reason if I am stressed and need to use something that will relieve me that I have to buy something which has more side effects than something I can have for free. I see no reason that I as an adult cannot plant a couple trees of marijuana on my own land for my private use. I see no reason that anyone should trespass on my land and drag me off to jail for planting a tree.

Leonardo Joshua

PS. The Prime Minister twice in the recent past has said that we must take another look at marijuana. With independence around the corner maybe we should make an independent decision and stop criminalizing our people to please others.