By Michelle Sutherland
The National Evangelical Association of Belize (NEAB) has once more come out to place on record their disapproval of the proposed legalization of marijuana in Belize on the basis that the industry will open the door for additional influences and harm to the country, its people, and businesses.
NEAB, along with its associated churches countrywide, stated that they continue to be in “strong opposition” to the legalization. They say that the new Bill also has the government not only legalizing, but promoting the production, sale, and use of marijuana.
The Reporter spoke to one of NEAB's members, Pastor Louis Wade, who made reference to two incidents last week which made headlines and which involved children using drugs and being recorded. Wade said that all this was being done simultaneously while the Government was making plans to legalize marijuana, without putting the requisite safeguards in place for the protection of children. He referred to a part of the legislation that seeks to make edibles legal, a move which he said can prove to be damaging to the younger population who are now closer to accessing these products through parents or loved ones at home.
“Since we have already seen all these social problems that exist already, we should be moving to reduce [as opposed to] moving to enhance. And if we do more to legalize, what we are saying is that nothing is wrong with this substance; therefore, we are encouraging the increased in consumption and use thereof. And that is why the church cannot and will not endorse this move and that is why we are moving in the opposite direction. Our children should inherit a drug-free society and not a society where drugs are more readily available for them,” said Wade.
In their press release, NEAB also noted the need to “shut the door rather than open it to marijuana dealers, many of whom also sell harder drugs. If this bill passes, we can expect increasing serious harm to come to our youth, business, tourism, and international banking relations.”
The release argued that the more profitable the marijuana business becomes the more drug cartels and their powerful militaries will be involved. They made reference to the increase in cartel crimes in neighboring Mexico and the impacts that it has had on tourism.
NEAB said that they will be the first to sound the alarm on the effects that they believe a move like this will cause on the country and even fear that once allowed will be nearly impossible to root back out.
They also pointed to the fact that being that other neighboring countries have not legalized Marijuana, Belize will now have the potential to become a major transshipment point for marijuana and other big-time drug runners.
In closing, NEAB claimed that the country already has great potential for recovery and prosperity without resorting to the inevitably demoralizing and corrupting marijuana business and instead should aim for a more healthy and beneficial course.