Pubdate: Fri, 03 Jun 2005
Source: Jamaica Gleaner, The (Jamaica)
Copyright: 2005 The Gleaner Company Limited
Author: Sonita Abrahams
Note: Sonita Abrahams is executive director of RISE Life Management 
(Reaching Individuals Through Skills and Education)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Popular)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Opinion)


ADDICTION ALERT, now called RISE, operates a daytime telephone
lifeline service, and data gathered between January 2003 and April
2005 demonstrate the following:

In 2003, a total of 216 calls were received from family members,
mostly concerning their relatives' ganja abuse. Of this number, 71 of
them were described as having symptoms associated with what is
commonly referred to as 'ganja-induced psychosis', that is, exhibiting
symptoms such as hearing voices, talking to themselves, hallucinating,
seeing things that aren't there, personality change, staring into
space, isolating (oneself) or becoming aggressive. Of these 71
persons, 67 were males. Approximately 39 of 71 cases were under age
25, including 12 teenagers.

In 2004, a total of 212 calls were received for ganja abuse. Of these,
73 described symptoms associated with ganja psychosis; 69 were men.

For the first four months of 2005, 140 calls were received for ganja
abuse. This is an average of 35 calls per months, where in 2003 and
2004 ganja-related telephone calls averaged 18 per month. So ... the
number (of calls) per month has doubled. We are not sure why. Of these
140 cases, 52 fall in the ganja psychosis category (mostly men), and
30 of the 52 - more than half - were under 26 years ... So we are
seeing twice the number of calls for ganja psychosis in 2005 than in
the previous two years, and an even greater percentage of males.

I would add that what we are really seeking is a good, proper,
effective treatment programme for people in trouble. What I do know
from our data is that the calls for help are increasing significantly,
and our young people, in particular our males, are at most risk. Also,
as long as the perception exists that ganja is a safe drug for all,
the use will continue to increase, and a significant percentage of our
young males will continue to fall by the wayside.

Mental Health Problems

I want to just look at some studies conducted abroad:

A Norwegian study demonstrated the negative effect of cannabis on
driving performance.

A New Zealand study indicated that the habitual use of marijuana is
strongly associated with car-crash injuries.

A United States-based study demonstrated that the prolonged use of
marijuana alters the immune cell response, resulting in a reduction in
resistance to bacterial and viral infections.

A study by Italian researchers of pregnant mothers who used the drug
during pregnancy, which demonstrated hyperactivity, learning and
memory retention problems in their children.

A United Kingdom study that indicated an increase in respiratory
illnesses in regular marijuana smokers, including vanishing lung
syndrome which is a form of emphysema.

A prospective cohort study out of Germany that investigated the
relation between cannabis use and psychotic symptoms in individuals
who were predisposed to psychosis, and who first used cannabis during
adolescence. This study concluded that cannabis use moderately
increases the risk of psychotic symptoms in young people but has a
much stronger effect in those with evidence of a predisposition for

Ganja Research

I know the use of ganja is culturally entrenched in Jamaica, and this
should be taken into consideration in the development of our laws and

I also believe that the herb does have medicinal values, and I would,
therefore, encourage and endorse the setting up of a cannabis research
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake