By: Winstanley.R.Bankole. Johnson
Free speech and free expressions are guaranteed in our National Constitution.
So when the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) requested submissions from all sectors of society to assist them review the present document to enhance our principal governance paradigms, I wasn’t in the least surprised that that latitude would be stretched beyond limits, and to a point where sections of a supposedly enlightened population would ultimately open the Commission’s Chairperson to ridicule and contempt.
In this country, national service entails open abuse irrespective of one’s age, as long as you do not meet the expectations of a few.
The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) as a professional body or the Independent Media Commission (IMC) at the worst is urged to endeavour to maintain such decorum amongst its practitioners as would preserve the ethics of the vocation.
Whilst a majority of contributors’ submissions dwelt on issues ranging from civic empowerment to complement sound democratic governance and human capacity building issues, quite a few others chose rather to dwell on a matter that has proven to be of debilitating consequences to humanity, and with a possibility of overstretching our limited social services, to wit: legalizing marijuana (“diamba”) possession and smoking.
Hollow and Irrational
The arguments advanced by the “pro-diamba” smokers are as hollow and as myopic as those against (a) enactment of the Anti-Abortion Bill (b) repeal of Sec.5 of the Public Order Act and (c) repeal of the Death Penalty, and all of which campaigns are merely calculated attempts to reverse our socio-economic gains.
Let us review a few of the reasons Rastafarians in this country have advanced to validate their submission for “diamba” possession and public smoking to be “entrenched” in our revised National Constitution as follows-:
• It will foster unity amongst ghetto dwellers “glocally”, enhance a peaceful co-existence of peoples and make the world a better place
• The British Medical Association (BMA) and the American Medical Association (AMA) have proved that the harmful side effects of smoking “diamba” are less dangerous than those associated with alcohol consumption
• It provides better reliefs for sclerosis sufferers.
• It is “victim-less” because it harms only the users
• The growing numbers of its users now make a case for its decriminalization
I find none of the above arguments tenable because they are narrow in concept and constituency and therefore lacking in the fundamental ethos required in a National Constitution, in addition to their also being lacking scriptural, religious or moral relevance because they do not connote a capacitating of minds.
Are Rastafarians now advocating that we should all degenerate into ghetto lifestyles because that is the only place where peace can be found? And after sniffing for a few moments, is it really peace that they enjoy or is it rather intoxication, mind stupor, hallucination – or all three the same time?
What of citizens who do not smoke or have never smoked? Have Rastafarians ever heard that passive smoking can be equally dangerous? What of the right to choices that every citizen must enjoy, including the right not to wear an excess baggage of weighty fibro-sarcoma type hairstyles?
Their submission that “diamba” is “victim-less” (except to the users) is preposterous, because when physical degeneration and ultimate debilitation of the minds and bodies of the users occur, they all invariably end up as national liabilities, and a burden to our limited medical and social services (Kissy mental home inmates) for palliative care, thus making us the innocent taxpayers extended passive victims of their substances abuse.
Also the regular references to the BMA and AMA each time “diamba” use is made is often misconstrued.
The fact that it is good for palliative care cannot justify its public uses, which is why by the time it is so recommended for patients’ use, their sensibilities are already numb and their dispositions psychotic. So “diamba” cannot be said to be “victim-less”.
Yes, I quite agree that the fundamental rights of citizens to choices should not be challenged. But where the exercise of such choices will lead to self-destruct methods of the citizens’ minds, or extenuatingly disrupt societal peace and good order, then of course the government should not condone it.
And that was why it worried me sore that on the same day that the news headline on Radio Democracy 98.1FM included a report of a Magistrate jailing two persons for being in possession of “diamba” parcels, was the very day that same media chose to host the Permanent Secretary (PS) of Internal Affairs David Augustine Sheku Esq. to deliberate on a pending “Government Policy” that will decriminalize “diamba”.
According to the PS, when that policy becomes operational, peddlers and users of “diamba” will no longer be criminalized, but will be considered as “patients requiring medical help”.
Did you get that? It makes you wonder what synergies (if any) exist between and among our MDAs.
Evidence based researches have proved that uses of “diamba” is injurious to health, as it induces memory impairment, depression, loss of self-control or psychosis. We also know that a high percentage of school and college dropouts are found amongst those who frequent “diamba smoking” ghettos and “Potes”.
As at now, we also further know that even without a National “Diamba” Policy” in place, far too many young minds are being unnecessarily destroyed.
Anything with such a debilitating potency cannot be anchored in a National Constitution or become defined into a government policy, which is why I believe the CRC as a first step has treated those submissions of the Rastafarians to liberalize “diamba” with the contempt they deserve.
One can therefore only forewarn the government however that even if after being so fully sieised of the harmful effects of “diamba” smoking on its users, it proceeds to introduce any policy liberalizing its possession and uses in this country, then the government should consequently be prepared to accept its vicarious liability for the actions of miscreant citizens by further decriminalizing several offences under our laws (from treason and murder through ABH and right down to petty offences under the Offences Against Persons Act) because a simple defense of “man bin dae under the “influenshce” My Lord……Believe oh!!”
Should be admissible in evidence and suffice for plea of diminished culpability or liability by all apprehended “diamba” smoking offenders who, cannot not be incarcerated under the proposed policy, but admitted into special hospital care to continue living “happily ever after”. as patients at State expense instead.