In a bid to increase public awareness of the uses and effects of marijuana (ganja), the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA) has launched its ‘Good Ganja Sense’ campaign.
The virtual launch of the campaign on Tuesday (March 9) seeks to address the issue of low levels of ganja literacy, with the intended outcome to have Jamaicans make better choices about its consumption.
The campaign is being implemented by the NCDA, in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Wellness and the University of Technology (UTech).
Executive Director of the NCDA, Michael Tucker, said the campaign, which is slated to run from March to December 2021 and perhaps beyond, also seeks to dispel the myths surrounding the use of ganja.
“The Good Ganja Sense is a ganja literacy campaign targeting the general population. The NCDA is very pleased to enter this partnership with the Ministry of Health and Wellness and the University of Technology to provide evidence-based public education to the Jamaican population,” he said.
Pointing out that ganja use and its properties have been misunderstood by a vast majority of citizens, Mr. Tucker said the purpose of this campaign is to utilise memorable, innovative and targeted approaches that will attract a multidimensional audience to the campaign for the purposes of improving literacy about ganja.
The range of strategies that will be used include social media advocacy, radio and television ads, print articles/material and billboards.
Recognising the importance of incorporating community-based engagements to bolster its efforts to influence behaviour change, Mr. Tucker said the campaign will utilise community-based participatory tools, such as games and other interactive learning elements for the purpose of reinforcing concepts and generating interest about the balanced approach to ganja.
Target groups include parents, youth, community leaders and groups, among others.
There will also be an interactive website to strengthen access to scientific and other resources about ganja.
The initiative will also seek to create and strengthen an alliance among key national organisations, interest groups and civil society organisations in the thrust to increase ganja literacy in Jamaica.
For her part, State Minister in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Hon. Juliet Cuthbert Flynn, commended the NCDA for the initiative, which aims to empower Jamaicans across various sectors on the appropriate use of this substance.
Citing research findings that support the associated implications of its misuse, the State Minister said: “We know that approximately 50 per cent of the clients in specialised drug treatment facilities across the island are there due to problematic ganja use.”
Acknowledging its widespread use and the important medicinal properties of ganja, Mrs. Cuthbert Flynn said the campaign is important in informing developments on the multifaceted uses of this substance.
“We need our people to see the whole picture. The Good Ganja Sense campaign, therefore, aims to explore current knowledge about cannabis. With this campaign, the NCDA will become an important source of information on ganja, the truth affirmed and the myths dispelled,” she said.