The National Council on Substance Abuse (NCSA), through its counselling service, is committed to the treatment and recovery of individuals struggling with substance abuse and addiction.
We are aware that young people continue to use and abuse drugs, and find themselves in trouble with the law and also hamper their health.
It is against that backdrop that yesterday’s announcement, by Governor General Her Excellency Dame Sandra Mason, to amend the Drug Abuse (Prevention and Control) Act to provide that possession of 14 grams, or half an ounce or less of cannabis is no longer an offence for which one can be arrested, charged and tried, and will therefore not result in an appearance before the Magistrates Court or in a criminal record, has raised concerns among the population.
She made the announcement while delivering the Throne Speech ahead of the second sitting of Parliament.
With this amendment, the NCSA is expected to see an increase in persons utilising our counselling programme, since it was also announced during the Governor General’s Throne Speech that, “A person in possession of half an ounce or less and who is under 18 years, or who is 18 years or older and appears to the police to be dependent on cannabis, will be referred to the National Council on Drug Abuse for counselling, in addition to paying the ticket.”
While we understand the decision taken, we want to also echo the sentiments of the Governor General that being charged a fine of $200, and being not dragged before the court, should not be a licence for lawlessness since there is a link between serious drugs and crime.
The NCSA looks forward to dialogue as we work in reducing the number of people who are addicted and continue to use and abuse substances.