Teachers’ union calls for support and services for children in the move to decriminalise marijuana

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The president of the Antigua and Barbuda Union of Teachers (A&BUT) is urging policy makers to ensure that the necessary support and services are provided to teachers and students in light of the decision by the government to decriminalise small amounts of marijuana.
The Misuse of Drug [Amendment] Act, 2018 now allows the possession of up to 15 grams of cannabis for recreational purposes. The law also makes provisions for households to grow a maximum of four cannabis plants on their property.
Azille explained that, while there is much research to support the government’s thrust, educators are concerned about the lack of
systems for unintended consequences.
“Already in our schools we are seeing children who are abusing the marijuana plant. We are seeing children who are coming to school every day so high that they cannot even offer an intelligible word in the context of the classroom.
“Who is going to accept the reality that it will not take a [law] to encourage use, but that it may take that [law] to further encourage increased use,” Azille said while addressing educators at the union’s recent delegates conference.
The union boss, who is also a school principal, said that children are naïve about the acceptable dosage of the drug. He is therefore urging the authorities to fix the problems to avoid a major fall out.
Meanwhile, the union leader is also calling on the government to place greater emphasis on mental health, indicating that guidance counsellors and other
individuals at the various schools are under significant strain and are unable to adequately deal with an increasing number of children with mental and emotional challenges.
“Many of the students in our classroom they say need proper assessment. We have one psychiatrist on island and very few can reach him. And, if they do, they cannot afford the over $800- plus that is required for that consultation. It was also stated that the Clarevue hospital only takes children from 18 years and up. So, what do we do when a six-year-old comes and presents such aggressive tendencies because he has so many different personalities?” the educator questioned.

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