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Gov't focused on reducing drug supply, demand and control

Published:Sunday | October 27, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Chief technical director, Ministry of National Security, Rohan Richards (left), is in discussion with director, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, United States (US) Embassy in Jamaica, Linnisa Wahid (right); and Organization of American States (OAS) representative, Jeanelle Van Glaanenweygel. Occasion was the presentation of the Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism (MEM) 7th Round National Evaluation Reports at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston on October 25.

A top official in the Ministry of National Security says the government has been focusing its counter-drug response on demand and supply reduction, as well as control measures.

Chief technical director in the security ministry, Rohan Richards, said the government's strategy, which is being done in accordance with the Organization of American States (OAS) Hemispheric Drug Strategy, is also building capacity through institutional strengthening and international cooperation.

He was speaking at the opening ceremony for the presentation of the Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism (MEM) 7th Round National Evaluation Reports on Drug Policies 2019, at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston on Friday. 

Richards pointed out that some of the activities undertaken so far include: the relaunch of the Jamaica Drug Information Network by the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA) in collaboration with the OAS/ Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission  (CICAD); expansion of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) Canine Division for greater narcotic drug detection; enhancing sub-regional cooperation with a number of countries via maritime and law enforcement agreements;  and bolstering border control measures through acquisition of patrol boats and airplanes.

Other initiatives include moving the illicit ganja cultivation into the regulated legal framework; establishing five drug courts with assistance from the OAS/CICAD as an alternative to incarceration; and the development of a National Early Warning System (EWS) on drugs.

The objective of the EWS is to identify emerging drugs, assess the risks they pose, and provide information for the design of effective responses.


He highlighted that the effects of the drug problem are far-reaching and cross disciplinary, and therefore require strengthened local, regional and international partnerships to effectively address the challenges.  

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) places total retail sales of illicit drugs at around $320 billion or 0.9 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).

It further states that about 275 million people worldwide, which is roughly 5.6 per cent of the global population, ages 15–64 years, used drugs at least once during 2016. Additionally, ganja was the most commonly used drug in 2016, with 192 million people using it at least once in the previous year.