CALL FOR LOCAL RESEARCH ACADEMY, MORE TREATMENT FACILITIES
TWO LOCAL substance abuse treatment officials are calling for the establishment of a local ganja research academy and more comprehensive treatment programmes for persons, especially adolescents, who are battling addiction.
The call comes against the background of the continuing debate on the decriminalisation of ganja.
Speaking at Wednesday's Editors' Forum on the Ganja Debate, Dr. Winston De La Haye, head of the detoxification unit at the University Hospital of the West Indies ( UHWI ) said scarce resources means that only 20 per cent of the 190,000 local persons who need treatment are receiving it.
"... Hand in hand with decriminalisation, we clearly need to be beefing up our services in order to offer treatment to individuals who are already affected but who we are not able to treat because of the small number of beds. I have only eight beds ... Right now, today, we are not offering treatment as needed," Dr. De La Haye said, during the forum, which was held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston.
He said there was a strong need for more treatment facilities because data show addictions are widespread and are growing among minors.
He said some adolescents had a high possibility of being exposed to and later abusing drugs.
"In terms of marijuana use, adolescents are potentially five times more likely to be exposed to crack cocaine. Having been exposed, the potential to use crack cocaine as a result of the marijuana use is 15 times increased," he said, quoting United States data.
For her part, Sonita Abrahams, executive director of Reaching Individuals Through Skills and Education ( RISE, formerly Addiction Alert ), pointed to the dangers of ganja use, among them increased risk of mental health problems. She said ganja, because of its properties, should be further researched.
"I believe that the herb does have medicinal values and I do endorse the setting up of a cannabis research academy," she said, also advocating rehabilitation, counselling and community service as alternatives to jail sentences for persons who use small amounts of ganja.
Fri, 20 May 2005
Source: Jamaica Gleaner, The (Jamaica)
Copyright: 2005 The Gleaner Company Limited