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  • Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, is urging increased monitoring and regulating of legislation relating to the decriminalisation of marijuana as well as greater public education on the subject.
  • Dr. Tufton indicated in his Sectoral Debate presentation in the House of Representatives on June 29 that the amendments necessitate a comprehensive strategy to address the implications for various groups in the Jamaican society.
  • “We cannot afford to ignore the potential negative aspects of abuse. There has to be follow through on public education, particularly among young people, so as to not create more problems,” he said.

Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, is urging increased monitoring and regulating of legislation relating to the decriminalisation of marijuana as well as greater public education on the subject.

Dr. Tufton, responding to queries during a post-Sectoral Debate press briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister on July 5, said this is particularly important to curb increasing levels of marijuana (or ganja) abuse among youth.

The Dangerous Drugs Act was amended in 2015 to allow changes which decriminalise the possession of up to two ounces of the substance, and also covers the use of ganja by Rastafarians as well as the importation and cultivation of ganja for research.

Dr. Tufton indicated in his Sectoral Debate presentation in the House of Representatives on June 29 that the amendments necessitate a comprehensive strategy to address the implications for various groups in the Jamaican society.

He said that according to data from the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA), 90 per cent of adolescents seen in the NCDA’s drug treatment programme are referred due to problems associated with marijuana use. Treatment reports also reflected a 54 per cent increase in students enrolled in a ganja prevention programme called ‘STEP-UP’ since the decriminalisation.

While acknowledging the benefits to the economy and other sectors of society from amendments to the legislation, Dr. Tufton said more rigid enforcement of the law and greater levels of education are critical to preventing abuse.

“We cannot afford to ignore the potential negative aspects of abuse.  There has to be follow through on public education, particularly among young people, so as to not create more problems,” he said.

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