Months after an international student was caught by police with one of the world’s most psychedelic drugs in his possession, the National Council on Substance Abuse (NCSA) has begun rolling out the island’s early warning system action plan to keep responders on the alert.
NCSA Manager Betty Hunte drew reference to the District “A” Magistrates’ Court case in August when a Ross University School of Medicine student was caught with methamphetamines, cocaine, and marijuana and was placed on $3000 bail and ordered to enrol in a drug rehabilitation programme. She said this was not good news since Barbados was in no position to respond to the effects of methamphetamine, the drug commonly known as “ecstasy”.
“That is something we don’t want here at all. It is something we just can’t respond to in the way it should be responded to. When agencies are responding to meth and those things they have to have protective clothing on. That is a very highly volatile substance so we don’t want it here,” Hunte said.
“But we have to keep on our toes because it is being reported that a large quantity was held in Guyana and Trinidad has seen it coming in,” she added.
The NCSA Manager said it was therefore important to train those at the frontline of national security to know what to look for to avoid the psychoactive drug making its way into society.
She said custom officers, employees at the Barbados Postal Service, and the forensic department responsible for testing substances are all major key players in the early warning system. They recently attended a workshop hosted by the NCSA.
“With the early warning system, we detect a substance and if something looks illegal you send it to forensics and there is feedback to say this is A, this is B or this is C,” she explained.
Methamphetamine, which is usually available in tablet form, is normally taken by mouth and may cause hallucinations.
However, Hunte suggested that the difficulty with investigating psychoactive substances was that legal substances have been used to manufacture the illegal drugs making it difficult to initially detect the psychoactive substances.
“So it keeps changing and as soon as something is identified another property is changed. So it is critical that forensics is on board. Fortunately we haven’t seen a lot of use among our young persons, but it is not to say that it is not there,” she said.
Hunte said there is a need to protect the borders from psychoactive drugs coming in as she spoke to members of the media about NCSA’s Project Safe Guarding Our Future Today (PROJECT SOFT) which is aimed at helping students who sat the 11 Plus Examination with their transitioning process.
She said the programme which was in its 17th year has so far assisted 600 persons.
According to the NCSA official, with Government’s policies to roll out a medicinal marijuana industry on the way, students will be informed that medicinal marijuana was not the same as marijuana that is smoked recreationally.
“Medicinal marijuana, a lot of the times, has the THC which is the psychoactive ingredient removed, that makes it different to marijuana that is used for recreational purposes,” Hunte said.