"Knowledge gained through the COPOLAD online courses by various Dominicans have been translated into improved programmes and activities geared towards drug abuse reduction and will have a rippling effect throughout various sectors"
Martha Jarvis holds a degree in Behavioral Science and is completing a Masters in Counselling. Employed at the National Drug Abuse Prevention Unit, Ministry of Health, Wellness and New Investment Dominica from April 2000 to present for sixteen years, Martha Jarvis was the Research and Information Officer; from 2017 to present is Director (Ag). The mission of the National Drug Abuse Prevention Unit is to enhance the Social and Psychological will being all citizens through established programmes to ensure their non-acceptance and non- involvement in drug abuse practices thereby reducing significantly the demand for drugs The NDAPU is composed of five Drug Prevention Officers, One Research Officer and one Secretary. The Unit has the responsibility empowering communities, schools, individuals and families through training, advocacy and skill development.
Considering the many aspects to address, what are the main challenges for the implementation of a National Drug Policy in Dominica?
There are a number of challenges in the implementation of national drug policy. One of the main challenges is that alcohol and tobacco use is entrenched in the very fabric of our society. The challenge is presented in the effort to deconstruct old habits and implement a level of control on all aspects of alcohol and tobacco. This challenge is further complicated by the lack of political support and buys in due to the fact that alcohol and other legal drugs are seen as major income earners. By implementing measures of control would lead to reduced income thus affecting the country’s economy. In the executions of public policy, the combination of human and financial resource is highly necessary. Making a lack of financial and human resources is a major challenge in the implementation of the process. There are aspects of the policy which incorporates international community’s policy actions. Part of these policies includes unrealistic goals as it pertains to Dominica. Dominica sometimes does not have the capacity to implement them adequately. In moving forward, Dominica requires specialized technical support and further training in adequately implementing, monitoring and evaluating National Drug Policies.
After these years of programme development, what is your balance regarding COPOLAD II in terms of enhanced developments in Dominica’s policy on drugs and in particular, in the strengthening of your National Observatory?
The Observatory has seen significant improvement to its core functions. There has been a significant improvement in the collation, collection, analysis and dissemination of Drug Information Network Report. The existence of the National Drug Information Network has proved empirical information that is use to drive our evidence-based programmes. The national action plan is a holistic and clear plan that incorporates various sectors and embodies the hemispheric plan of action.
Your Prime Minister Hon Roosevelt Skerrit announced in 2019, that Government will soon be tabling the necessary amendments to decriminalize the possession of marijuana “in respect to the worldwide trend of decriminalization of cannabis for medical, religious and recreational use.” What is the current situation in the country on regards this topic and which will be steps further now the confidence in the PM has been renewed?
The Government is in the process of implementation of measures that will pave the way for the decriminalization of one ounce of marijuana. Instructions have been given to the Legal Affairs Department to begin the process for the formulation of the legal framework related to the decriminalization of marijuana for personal use. Amendments to the law will also include expunging the records of those convicted for marijuana possession, any conviction in respect of the possession of 28.35 grams (one ounce) or less. To date, research is being done in regards to the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
In 2019, you participated at our Workshop, held in The Bahamas, for planning in Drug in Drug Demand Reduction, using the new tool “One Step at a Time” developed by COPOLAD. What are the main potentialities of using this tool for facilitating the task of decision making, planning and evaluation in this field?
Dominica views the introduction and training on the use of this tool/ Software as an opportunity to strengthen its human capacity and existing Programmes. The One Step at a Time Software will be utilized in meeting the needs of the country through the Training of Drug Prevention/ Education Officers, Health Care Workers, Health and Family Life Education (HFLE) Teachers and Health Educators to effectively strengthen their capacity in delivering evidence-based programmes in various sectors. The software has been widely utilized in the planning of its community-based programmes and activities.
How the capacity building and the EU-CELAC exchange of best practices facilitated by COPOLAD have benefited your country?
Dominica joined the COPOLAD programme on the second round when the Caribbean was given the opportunity to participate in the process. It is an honor for a small nation country to be part of such a life-changing experience. COPOLAD provided a forum where small island development states were given voices and equal opportunities alongside the more experienced Countries. Participants were able to share their best practices, and gain hands on knowledge from a wide range of experts not limited to their field of expertise.
During COPOLAD’s second-round Dominica was able to close a number of gaps in drug control to include the development of legislation on Precursor Chemicals, development of skills in Programme Development, training in various drug-related fields, and the production of an annual Drug Information Reports.
Knowledge gained through the COPOLAD online courses by various Dominicans has been translated into improved programmes and activities geared towards drug abuse reduction. The experiences gained will have a rippling effect throughout various sectors of the country as the work of reducing the impact of drug abuse continues throughout the years.
Dominica Drug Information Network Report 2018File PDF. 2.2 Mb