Drug prevention and treatment organizations better equipped to deal with synthetic drugs and psychoactive substances

(SKNIS): Participants from drug prevention and treatment organizations, as well as law enforcement agencies, are currently engaged in a three-day National Seminar on Synthetic Drugs and Novel Psychoactive Substances at the Doreen McMahon Conference Room at the Customs and Excise Department in Bird Rock, St. Kitts.

The workshop, which runs from April 3-5, is facilitated by the Organization of American States (OAS), and is attended by local participants drawn from Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise Department, the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force, St. Kitts-Nevis Bureau of Standards, Ministry of Health, Drug Prevention and Treatment Services and the National Council on Drug Abuse Prevention.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Osmond Petty, said that the issue of drugs, namely marijuana in St. Kitts and Nevis, is real and so the workshop is important and timely as it will help to prevent the introduction of other substances to the islands.

Mr. Petty explained that the workshop is geared towards looking at those other drugs, the dangers that is associated with the use of these drugs and the fact that one can be hooked on these drugs just as much as other drugs. The workshop, he added, will also look at the legal implications and requirements to control these drugs.

“I would want to suggest that this workshop is therefore important to sensitize the different agencies in St. Kitts and Nevis that deal with drugs. I want to also suggest that awareness is important,” said Mr. Petty, adding that there is a negative side that needs to be considered. “But because the drugs are not here locally, we have to be careful that workshops like these don’t give the wrong people awareness; because at the end of the day, those who may not have known about the availability of these drugs, once we begin to publicize the findings of workshops like these then we not only sensitize agencies who are here but we also sensitize those people out there who may be otherwise engaged that these drugs exist,” he added.

He noted that he would want participants and facilitators of the workshop to look deeper into the issue of drugs.

“I would want the workshop not just to look at the drugs but to discuss ways of controlling their entry into our country, ways of controlling the purchase of these drugs – because it cannot be that you can just go and buy them at the pharmacy – so there has to be some way of controlling the purchasing of these drugs if we know that they are available and if we know that they can be misused,” he stated.

Mr. Petty said that drugs contribute to crime in St. Kitts and Nevis and the government will continue in its endeavour to ensure that these issues are addressed as it looks for ways to reduce the use of illegal substances.

“We know that drugs are connected to our crime situation and our firearms in the country. We know that there have been homicides which relate to the use of some of these drugs, people selling drugs and stealing drugs… and this is no secret, and we will of course continue our efforts to eradicate as much as possible the use of that type of drugs in St. Kitts and Nevis and the trade associated with it,” stated the permanent secretary.

The permanent secretary encouraged the participants to take the workshop very seriously and to share their thoughts to discuss ways in which the country can prevent these types of drugs from getting into the federation.

Karimu Byron-Caines, Director of National Council on Drug Abuse Prevention, expressed thanks to the OAS for its continued support especially for all the training opportunities afforded to drug prevention and treatment officials in St. Kitts and Nevis.

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