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Story Highlights

  • Executive Director of the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA), Michael Tucker, is warning of the deleterious effects of drug use on the young brain, and the direct correlation between drug use, particularly ganja, and criminal behaviour.
  • Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ on June 23, Mr. Tucker said it is important to note what drug use, and in particular ganja, can do to an individual, especially at a young age.
  • Citing a 2014 Prison Survey, which explored the relationship between drugs and crime, Mr. Tucker pointed out that 15 per cent of all inmates were imprisoned for crimes in Juvenile correctional institutions, because they were minors (under the age of 18 years).

Executive Director of the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA), Michael Tucker, is warning of the deleterious effects of drug use on the young brain, and the direct correlation between drug use, particularly ganja, and criminal behaviour.

Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ on June 23, Mr. Tucker said it is important to note what drug use, and in particular ganja, can do to an individual, especially at a young age.

“We feel that any drug use can cause problems and ultimately there is a cycle that drug use causes, especially with the young person. The young brain should not be exposed to drugs. There are serious problems that are associated with that,” the Executive Director informed.

Citing a 2014 Prison Survey, which explored the relationship between drugs and crime, Mr. Tucker pointed out that 15 per cent of all inmates were imprisoned for crimes in Juvenile correctional institutions, because they were minors (under the age of 18 years).

The Executive Director outlined four major issues that arise from drug use by young persons.

“The first issue is cognitive, where drug use affects the development of the brain and the potential for that person to excel academically is otherwise stymied,” he explained.

Mr. Tucker also pointed out that there are problems in terms of the continuation of education following drug use, as many times the students would not do well in school or be expelled from school for poor performance.

“These situations usually end up in them being non-productive in society, languishing on the corner, having to hustle or ending up in the wrong type of company. They often segue into gang association and activities that lead to crime,” he noted.

“Another issue is that there are people who are predisposed to mental illness who will have problems if they use drugs, and those who already have it, the problem will be exacerbated by ganja use,” Mr. Tucker added.

The Executive Director said the fourth issue is the a motivational syndrome characterized by apathy, indifference, loss of initiative and loss of interest in anything except the drug.

He explained that ganja contains a psychoactive substance  that causes the user to be either high or trying to get high, and generally do not focus on much else except the drug and the high, and they end up getting stuck in that cycle.

A significant finding of the study is that in all countries surveyed, prisoners reported that they began to use drugs from as young as age 15.

Among the Jamaican inmates, the average age of first use of ganja was 15 years; for alcohol, age 16; and for tobacco, age 17. The survey also showed that 75 per cent of   inmates reported having used ganja at some point in their lifetime.

The survey was funded largely by the Canadian government and supported by the Organisation of American States/Inter-American Drug Abuse Commission (OAS/CICAD), with the co-operation of the Department of Correctional Services.