Why legalising marijuana should never be allowed in Samoa

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

The call to legalise the use of marijuana in Samoa for medicinal purposes will win a lot of support and applause from liberal online pundits but that’s as far as it is likely to go.

The truth is that it is unlikely to progress very far in conservative Samoa for reasons that are easy enough to understand. 

For instance, on the front page of the newspaper you are reading today, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has already made the government’s position quite clear. 

“The reason most countries ban this stuff is because of the impact it has on the lives of the general public, especially young children,” he said.

“It’s the same reason ice is illegal because it has caused a lot of mental problems for young kids. There have been cases where some people who were high on this stuff only find out after they’re high that they had killed someone. And yet they couldn’t recognise that when they were high.”

Tuilaepa said he does not want anything like that to happen to Samoa.

“Some families have been broken up because of this stuff. The problem is people can’t get enough of it. They become addicted and they don’t want to end that high? Would you like (to live with) someone like that who is always high and can never get enough?” he said.

“This is the stuff you don’t joke about. So anyone who says that this stuff should be legalised, that is no different from saying we should also legalise people to kill other people.”

Prime Minister Tuilaepa has got a point and he makes a lot of sense. 

And we don’t expect anything different from the Churches either who will no doubt strongly object. 

In the villages where they are already struggling to deal with social and criminal problems created by marijuana use, the very idea is likely to be laughed at. It would be unheard of.

But that’s okay. 

This is one of the beautiful things in this country we call home. It is the very fact that citizens have the freedom express their views on issues they strongly believe in. 

The view might not necessarily be correct – and strongly supported - but the fact people have the opportunity to air them is a great thing. Which is what we want to see. Here at the Samoa Observer, we don’t necessarily agree with a number of views being expressed about certain issues but we exist to provide a forum for those views to be heard.

When it comes to the issue in question, it’s not a new topic. It has been debated to an extent on a number of international forums and in the age of social media, the question of whether Samoa would entertain legalising marijuana is not new at all. 

Now senior lawyer, Unasa Iuni Sapolu, has only become the face of making the call public in Samoa this time. She is brave and kudos to her for having the courage to say what some people have been quietly talking about for many years and yet lacked the guts to vocalize it.

In Unasa’s view, legalising marijuana will help Samoa’s economy through the export of medicinal products. She also believes this will help reduce the number of inmates housed at Tafa’igata Prison. 

“It will save costs to Samoa when all those imprisoned for possession of marijuana etc. are no longer fed in jail, no longer accommodated in jail and there are no more criminal offenses relating to marijuana,” she said. 

“For health reasons, those with cystic fibrosis, epilepsy, cancer, depression and other health problems can be treated with marijuana.”

Well, these claims need to be substantiated, backed by statistics and research from cases similar to Samoa. 

It will certainly be very interesting to hear from the medical sector in Samoa about their views on the issue.

 But if our humble opinion is sought, our advice will be very simple. 

Let’s just stick to taro, bananas, coconuts and other proven crops for exports.

Given the growing crime rate in Samoa – with many cases related to the abuse of marijuana – we should stay far, far away from the idea of telling those unemployed village boys and loafers in town that they can smoke weed to make their troubles go away.

The last thing we want – on top of all our problems today – is to wake up to a bunch of zombies along Beach Road who will claim they are merely trying to heal their gout with a tinnie or four.

That’s what we think anyway. What about you? 

Share your thoughts with us.

Have a fabulous Friday Samoa, God bless!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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