“Dispel misconceptions about marijuana” – says Jamaica’s Health Minister

Jamaica's Health Minister, Dr Chris Tufton

Jamaica’s Minister of Health Dr. Christopher Tufton says misconceptions about marijuana (ganja) must be dispelled to stem misuse of the drug, especially by children.

“Dispelling those perceptions means all hands on deck. It means public education, it means (those) in the court system or are providing counselling, being aware. You have to give that lecture almost every time you have to deal with that problem, until it seeps through, until it gets into the minds and the mind set and the psyche of the society,” said Tufton, who attended a Children’s Drug Treatment seminar in Kingston on the weekend.

However, he stated that given cultural practices and other factors, that it will be difficult to change persons’ views about the substance.

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“In Jamaica, we have culturally accepted as a norm, the consumption of certain types of substances, marijuana of course, being almost a part of us in terms of general acceptance, availability and so on.”

Tufton said the government is concerned about the health of the public who use such substances which has the capacity to create negative side effects on the person and the society in general.

He noted that by “relaxing” the regulations under the Dangerous Drugs Act, which allowed for the decriminalization of ganja for medicinal, religious, scientific and therapeutic purposes, persons interpreted that as a “free for all” where it is now acceptable to have it in their possession, as well as smoke it freely.

Under the Act, the use of ganja is not legal. It is now a non-arrestable but ticketable offence to possess small quantities of ganja, amounting to two ounces or less. This attracts a fine payable outside of the court, but will not result in the person having a criminal record.

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