Pubdate: Fri, 25 Nov 2005
Source: Jamaica Gleaner, The (Jamaica)
Copyright: 2005 The Gleaner Company Limited
Author: Glenroy Sinclair, Staff Reporter
Bookmark: (Ganja)


GANJA, ALCOHOL and hopelessness are contributing to the country's
soaring murder rate, which has now reached 1,478. So says mental
health experts at the University of the West Indies.

The assertion about ganja was made Wednesday night by Dr. Winston De
La Haye, president of the Psychiatry Association of Jamaica while
speaking at a public forum on gambling, sex and food addictions at the
Courtleigh Hotel, St. Andrew. He was responding to suggestions that
some persons may have become "addicted" to the use of the gun and to

"Cannabis (ganja) can make you mad, so why take a chance and use it?"
said the mental health expert.

"We do believe that cannabis is playing a role in violence in this
country. Cannabis has tetrahydro cannabinol (THC) which brings out
aggression in people," said Dr. De La Haye, who is also a consultant
psychiatrist and clinical director of the Detoxification Unit at the
University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI).

But according to UHWI Professor, Fred Hickling: "The use of ganja can 
be a secondary issue. People are so frustrated and fed up with 
poverty that they believe the best way out of their problem is to 
resort to a spliff," he said.

Feeling of Hopelessness

He said the root cause of the violence in Jamaica could be the feeling
of hopelessness among inner-city youths, who believe that the easiest
way out of their problems is to take up a gun and shoot and kill
people. "These young people (the ones committing violent crimes) are
well respected and supported by the community where they are from,"
said Professor Hickling.

The professor described Jamaica as being divided into two halves: one
for the rich and the other for the poor.

"I don't see any hope for the masses of poor people," he
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