Pubdate: Sat, 17 Dec 2005
Source: Royal Gazette, The (Bermuda)
Copyright: 2005 The Royal Gazette Ltd.
Author: Matthew Taylor, Chief Reporter
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


New National Drug Control Minister Wayne Perinchief yesterday said he 
would be reviewing the laws on marijuana after becoming alarmed over 
the numbers of people on the stop list.

Asked about decriminalisation of marijuana, Mr. Perinchief told a 
Press conference yesterday it was a contentious issue but many people 
were calling for a look at the law.

He said: "I will certainly be reviewing many of the laws that wrap 
around ATI (Alternatives to Incarceration) and we have to consider 
going forward in this modern world and keeping in sync with other countries.

He noted the "disproportionally punitive effect on young people" 
caught with a small amount of drugs and put on the stop list.

Around 70 Bermudian students had been stopped or impeded from going to college.

"It opened my eyes, I wasn't entirely shocked by it but it was a wake 
up call. You can take your message from that. It is something I will 
be reviewing."

The Minister also revealed the new National Drug Control Ministry 
will be created out of the National Drug Commission.

He said the National Drug Commission couldn't mandate much because it 
didn't have the powers.

"It was just simply providing funding ad hoc for groups who made 
applications but this stage will tie them altogether."

Mr. Perinchief said: "Many of the organisations which came under the 
Health Ministry will now come under the ministry of National Drug 
Control -- the NDC. Effectively the NDC has grown up into a 
full-blown Ministry."

The treatment part of the Alternatives to Incarceration was not as 
effective could be, said Mr. Perinchief. He said the Bermuda 
Assessment and Referral Centre and treatment programmes would be beefed up.

"So people put on ATI don't simply go home and continue with what 
they were doing before. They will have a real measurable improvement 
in their treatment." Early intervention to help youngsters get off 
ecstasy and particularly marijuana could stop them getting into harder drugs.

"There are a lot of drug users coming out of prison. Camp Spirit will 
certainly be strengthened.

"Of course there will be greater focus, and you heard it from the 
Governor himself, on the Mr. Big and those who gain financially from drugs.

"On the one hand there will be more rehabilitation and prevention -- 
and for the people making money there will be more punishment."

He said people had to adopt tough love for addicted relatives and out 
people who had been hiding in closet over their drug links. "I would 
like to see a change in mindset -- that we can do something about 
debilitating drugs and we can do something about rehabilitating 
people in an effective way."

He said the parish councils would be given more power to take on 
their drugs problems, aided by Police closing drug dens.

"What you see is a package, it will be a sustainable strategy.

"It won't be sweeping streets of drug dealers and closing crack 
houses only to have them come back. We want to recapture 
neighbourhoods that are risk."
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