JIS News

Mayor of Kingston, Desmond McKenzie, has strongly defended Jamaica’s reputation as a law-abiding country, noting that the island was not a haven for drugs.
He said that the perception in some countries abroad was that every Jamaican uses at least an ounce of marijuana daily.
“This is not so,” the Mayor stated as he addressed the opening of a two-day international Drug Treatment City Partnership Conference yesterday (March 5), at the Iberostar Hotel in Lilliput, St. James.
He informed that he recently attended the World Conference of Mayors in Sweden, where he had to defend the integrity of Jamaica’s laws against the use of drugs.
“As I explained at that conference, while Jamaica is perceived by many people abroad as an haven for drug addicts, and we have even been painted as a country where the average Jamaican smokes one or two ounces of marijuana daily, this is not so,” he stated.
“The fact is that the majority of our citizens have never used or probably have never had any personal contact with hard drugs,” he added.
Citing statistics from the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA), he said that less than 200,000 Jamaicans were addicted to various substances, with alcoholics being the largest category of abusers.
Mayor McKenzie told the drug treatment experts from some 15 European and Caribbean countries attending the St. James conference, that he was happy that they were in the island “to see for themselves that the country is really a nation with laws against the use of illegal substances, and a population which is strongly against the use of those banned substances”.
Mayor McKenzie blamed some of the stigma being attached to Jamaica on the fact that ports in Kingston and Montego Bay, St. James, were being used for the transshipment of narcotics. This, he said, has presented negative effects both economically and socially.
“One of the major concerns is the control that the wealth of the drug traffickers have on the poor and marginalised and semi-literate people, including employing them as enforcers in communities,” he pointed out.
The Mayor described as “frightening”, the control that the ill-gotten wealth had earned for some drug pushers, and stated that he was in full agreement with comments made recently by the Executive Director for the United Nations (UN) Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa, that “one of the biggest challenges for mankind is to prevent drugs and crimes from destroying the cities”.
He said that this scenario must be of concern not only to Jamaica but the entire world.
In his address, Mayor of Montego Bay, Charles Sinclair Jr., expressed his hope that the conference would assist with the creation of drug information and research systems, and aid in increasing awareness on drug abuse treatment and rehabilitation.
The conference, which ends today (March 6) is organised by the Inter- American Drug Abuse Control Commission, in collaboration with the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the NCDA under the theme: ‘Local diagnostic studies and information systems in drug treatment.’
Among its objectives is the development of consensus aimed at improving drug treatment at the municipal level between cities of Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean.

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