When Krishnan Wignarajah found out his mother and two of his siblings were all diagnosed with cancer he started to look into alternative medicine to help their treatment.
In this search to educate himself, Wignarajah said he came across the health benefits of cannabis.
âI saw them having to go through this entire medical process. It definitely was not easy,â Wignarajah said.
He said apart from how expensive treatment was, it had an emotional effect on his family.
Sadly, Wignarajahâs mother passed away as a result of cancer. She developed a 23 cm tumour in her stomach and was given one month to live by doctors.
Wignarajah said this rocked the family. His two siblings, who are diagnosed with cancer, are still battling the deadly disease.
Wignarajah was able to convince his brother Gajen to try Cannabidiol (CBD) oils, which occur naturally in cannabis, to control his pain.
âIt does not take away the cancer but it controls the pain and helps build his cells,â Wignarajah said.
Gajen has been using the CBD oils regularly.
Wignarajah, however, has still not been able to convince his sister Ambi to try it. Ambi still believes all the misinformation she had heard about cannabis.
Wignarajah said his mission is now to spread the truth of cannabis.
He is the Chief Operation Officer (COO) of a company called Weedadvisor and has been having discussions with governments in the region to reform the laws surrounding the use of cannabis here.
Time to move towards legislation
Wignarajah said now is the perfect time for T&T to move toward the legalisation of cannabis here.
He said like Ambi, one of the main deterrents is the miseducation people have about cannabis.
Wignarajah said there are five common myths that need to be debunked.
He said the first common misconception was that cannabis is viewed as a gateway drug. âPoliticians and activists have been using this argument for decades. They claim that cannabis use will eventually generate curiosity about âharderâ drugs, leading to experimentation. This is blatantly false.â
Wignarajah said according to a report by the National Academic Press there is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs.
Wignarajah said the second myth was that âsmoking cannabis is more harmful than cigarettesâ.
âWe all know the dangers of smoking. In fact, thanks to education efforts, the habit is at an all-time historic low; however, this also caused public opinion to see the act of smoking any kind of plant as being equal toâor worseâthan cigarettes,â he said.
âGranted, we are not saying that inhaling smoke is completely safe, but comparing it to cigarettes is simply wrong.â
Miseducation about cannabis Wignarajah said people also wrongfully believe that âcannabis leads to criminal activitiesâ.
âOf course, if cannabis is illegal, then simply possessing it does indeed make someone a criminal; however, when it comes to things like assault and homicide, the evidence just doesnât support the more extreme claims,â Wignarajah said.
Wignarajah said marijuana was not as addictive as many people believe. âWhile there are rare reports of addiction, itâs important to note that the dependency is psychological, not chemical. People often turn to it as a way to mitigate the symptoms of other issues, like depression or anxiety,â he said.
Wignarajah said some people also believe cannabis causes schizophrenia.
âAnti-cannabis groups often like to show studies indicating that long-term useâespecially among young peopleâcan lead to schizophrenia; however, the doctors have said that this is due to a classic statistical error: âcorrelation does not equal causation,â he said.
Wignarajah said the best way for people to overcome the wrong impressions they have about cannabis is to get educated about it.
He said ideally the Caribbean region should approach the issue of cannabis legalisation as one and create a booming industry here.
However, he said that in the interim individual countries should push forward on their own and reap the benefits the industry has to offer and not get left behind.