- Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, says he is in support of the decriminalisation of marijuana from a point of view of justice, but not of health.
- He said any legalisation for the purposes of medical marijuana use, must be against the background of a regulated framework.
- Dr. Ferguson says he has seen several useful citizens prevented from travelling because of being caught with small quantities of marijuana in their youthful years.
Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, says he is in support of the decriminalisation of marijuana from a point of view of justice, but not of health.
“I don’t support the smoking of marijuana, just as I don’t support the smoking of tobacco…. Our position is very clear, there are some cannabinoids which is part of the constituent elements of marijuana that is useful in relation to health, but there are others, the THCs (Tetrahydrocannabinols), which are the psycho-active elements that in many regards have created a negative impact on the health services,” the Minister told journalists in Bethel Town, Westmoreland, on April 16.
He said any legalisation for the purposes of medical marijuana use, must be against the background of a regulated framework. “My support would not be (for) legalisation that will allow for wanton smoking of ganja,” the Minister said.
Commenting on the social impact, Dr. Ferguson said that in his capacity as Member of Parliament, he has seen many useful citizens, especially young men who were not presenting any anti-social behaviour, prevented from travelling and from benefitting from the Overseas Farm Work Programme, because of being caught with small quantities of marijuana in their youthful years.
The Minister was in Westmoreland to deliver the keynote address at the opening ceremony of the Bethel Town & Neighbouring Communities Association Inc. (BTANCA) health fair.
Minster Ferguson said the fair’s theme; “Tackling Diabetes – Prevention, Treatment, Management,” resonated with the Ministry of Health’s approach and focus areas.
“We have been stepping up our efforts to address the risk factors associated with diabetes and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs). For example, healthy lifestyle programmes are being implemented at many of our community health centres. We recently collaborated with the Minister of Agriculture to table the National Food and Nutrition Security Policy in Parliament, and have revised and are currently finalizing our food based dietary guidelines for which we will be launching a public education campaign to encourage persons to eat the appropriate proportions of different food groups,” Dr. Ferguson said.
He further informed that in addition to these interventions, his ministry will be looking at ways to get the population to reduce its consumption of fats, sugar and salt, and increase physical activity.
The Minister said a large percentage of NCDs are preventable through reduction of four behavioral risk factors: tobacco use, physical inactivity, harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diet.
He noted that action to prevent and control NCDs required a ‘whole community approach’ and commended BTANCA for its foresight and recognition of the role it has to play in securing the health of community members.