Pubdate: Fri, 03 Jun 2005
Source: Jamaica Gleaner, The (Jamaica)
Copyright: 2005 The Gleaner Company Limited
Author: Winston De la Haye
Note: Dr. Winston De la Haye is consultant psychiatrist and head of the 
Detoxification Unit, University Hospital of the West Indies.
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Cocaine)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Treatment)
Bookmark: (Opinion)


CERTAINLY THERE is no controversy over whether or not marijuana leads
to a psychosis. That's clear as I mop up the other end of the problem
at the Detox Unit.

Just to share some data with you, we have ... the only adolescent drug
abuse clinic in this country which I started in January last year.
When we analysed the data for last year, 100 per cent were using
marijuana, two-thirds (were) using alcohol and one client (was) using
cocaine. This is in the age range of 10 to 18.

When you move across to the adults, age range, 20-55, what we find is
poly-substance abuse, (with) 93 per cent using crack cocaine, 92 per
cent using alcohol (and) 90 per cent using cannabis. Clearly, if you
look at the age ranges of both cohorts, those between 10 and 18 come
in primarily for marijuana use. Those three years later - between 21
and 50-odd - come in for crack cocaine use. And so clearly there are
factors associated with environmental issues primarily resulting in
adolescents within a three-year period transitioning from primarily
marijuana use to crack cocaine use, which is the big problem.

Exposure to Ganja Increases Risk of Crack Cocaine Exposure

They have worked this out in the United States and they state clearly
where by virtue of marijuana use, one is potentially five times more
likely to be exposed to crack cocaine. Having been exposed to the
potential to use crack cocaine as a result of your marijuana use, the
risk is 15 times increased. I certainly support the fact that it is
highly unlikely in our country with the high prevalence of marijuana
use that we are going to be able to reduce the number of people using
marijuana (and) I do think it is inappropriate to be locking up people
for a spliff.

However, here is the difficulty. In this country, 12 per cent of the
population, that amounts to 375,000 people, is affected with substance
abuse to include alcohol, cannabis and crack cocaine of which, and we
have worked this out at the National Council of Drug Abuse, 190,000
need treatment. How many are we treating today?

Well, we are offering treatment given the scarce resources to 20 per
cent of this population. Clearly then, hand in hand with
decriminalisation which I support, we clearly need to be beefing up
our services in order to offer treatment to individuals who already
are affected and we are not able to treat because of the small number
of beds, I have only eight beds - the only inpatient drug treatment
unit in the country.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake