Elizabeth Japal has a Degree in Sociology and has been employed at the Drug Control Secretariat, Ministry of Education Human Resource Development and Religious Affairs (MOE) Grenada from February 2009 to present. She holds the job title of Assistant Drug Avoidance Officer at the Drug Control Secretariat; a department at the MOE. The mission of the Drug Control Secretariat is to create an atmosphere of non-tolerance towards controlled drugs, through the implementation of appropriate programmes, which will promote the well-being of all persons in the state of Grenada. She is the Officer at the Drug Control Secretariat, with specific responsibility for the Grenada Drug Epidemiology Network (GRENDEN). The Grenada Drug Epidemiology Network (GRENDEN), which from 2002, is the mechanism through which Grenada collects, analyzes, and disseminates information on drugs, and related information, for the purpose of monitoring trends, developing policy, and implementing appropriate programmes and responses.
What are the main priorities of the Drug Control Secretariat and your Government regarding drugs policy and to what extent is important the inter-institutional coordination among the different concerned institutions in Grenada?
The National Anti-Drug Strategy expired at the end of 2018. In this regard, the Government of Grenada, will develop a new Strategy. The strategy would outline the country-specific drug problems, assess previous activities carried out, and identify objectives and priority actions to be implemented. It would be evidence-based, realistic, and would consider human rights, equality, gender and development with social inclusion, relevant criteria of culture and age group.
The Strategy is an expression of the Government of Grenada's commitment to regional and international drug control programmes, and reaffirms Grenada’s willingness to fulfill all its obligations to all treaties, conventions, mutual, and bilateral agreements to which it is a party in the area of drug control. In this regard interinstitutional coordination would be paramount. The involvement of our stakeholders would be an integral part in the discussions for the development of the new strategy.
Priorities for the new Strategy would include: Treatment for women and adolescents, reduction in prevalence and incidence of drug use, mitigate socio-economic factors influencing drug use, design and implement universal, selected and indicated drug prevention programs targeting vulnerable sectors of the population, population survey on drug prevalence, identification and dismantling drug trafficking routes and related criminal activities including financial crimes.
Considering Grenada’s National Anti-Drug Strategy, 2013 to 2018, which indicators have been proven relevant in this period, especially for identifying the main challenges to be faced in the upcoming years?
As Grenada prepares its new anti-drug Strategy, 2019-2023 some of main challenges to be faced in the area of drug control in the next cycle of the strategy would include: emergence of new drugs; including new psychoactive substances (NPS), legalization/decriminalization of cannabis and related products, linkages between drug trafficking and firearms, money laundering and financial crimes, establishment of appropriate treatment services for women and adolescents. Other challenges relate to financial and technical resources to adequately respond to the aforementioned challenges.
Grenada is participating at the COPOLAD’s Working Group on “Capacity-building for the elaboration of first country reports”. Could you share with us the main outcomes of the new report produced with the support of the programme?
Grenada through its’ data collection mechanism, the Grenada Drug Epidemiology Network (GRENDEN), which was established in 2002, has produced an annual drug statistical report every year since its establishment. However, in 2018 the report was of a higher quality. This was due mainly to the training and technical support which Grenada and other Caribbean countries received in 2017, through participation in the COPOLAD working group to produce a national drug report. As a result of the COPOLAD training, the format of the 2018 drug report was more attractive, reader-friendly and comprehensive. Grenada has, therefore, since utilised/ incorporated the new COPOLAD format in the production of its 2019 drug report, and plans to continue doing so.
The Grenada Drug Epidemiology Network (GRENDEN) collects, analyses, and disseminates statistical data on drugs and serves as the Early Warning System (EWS) for the country. What are the main challenges for consolidating the EWS and how COPOLAD can support this task?
Early Warning System (EWS) is a new concept for the national drug control program. Given the EWS model used in European and some other countries with a focus on new psychoactive drugs, Grenada has recognised that such model needs to be tailored to adequately respond to its specific cultural and national needs and situation. In this regard, the Grenada Drug Epidemiology Network (GRENDEN), serves as the EWS, since it has the capacity for data collection and analysis, and it incorporates all national entities which are involved in drug control. To date, Grenada has not identified NPS; however, agencies such as the Royal Grenada Police Force and the Customs and Excise Department remain vigilant in their interdiction efforts, to identify and deal with such situations, should they arise.
Technical support and training will be needed for law enforcement agencies and other professionals in the identification of NPS, and the development of appropriate protocols to address the issue. The Drug Control Secretariat, which manages GRENDEN, will also need similar technical assistance, and to further enhance its data collection, reporting systems and dissemination of information to the public, regarding NPS and related issues.
As per the recent data, no laboratories were detected or dismantled for illicit production of drugs of natural or synthetic origin in Grenada, still the precursors control is a matter of concern in the Caribbean region. Which is the perspective from your country about this subject and its impact at a regional level?
The Drug Abuse (Prevention and Control) Act CAP 84A identifies chemicals (precursors) which are under legislative control. However, Grenada has no significant industrial companies which require much of the products; therefore, importation of precursors is not done on a large scale.
Notwithstanding, some precursors are imported, but there is not an adequate and functional regulatory framework in place to monitor such importations and use of the chemicals. Technical assistance and training are required for relevant agencies in this regard. There is the need to strengthen mechanisms to control importation and monitoring of precursors including use of pre-export notifications.
Cannabis is the main controlled drug produced and consumed in Grenada and continues to be a major concern for the Government. Which are the measures adopted so far and which is the official position of the country on this matter?
Cannabis (and products which emanates from the same, such as Tetrahydrocannabinol, and cannabinol derivatives), was designated as a controlled drug in the post-independence era in Grenada through the Misuse of Drugs Act, No. 39 of 1981, which was subsequently repealed and replaced by the Drug Abuse (Prevention and Control) Act CAP 84A, of 1992.
The Government of Grenada has categorically stated on numerous occasions that cannabis will remain a controlled drug, and therefore will not legalize or decriminalize the drug.
Further, legislation in Grenada does not make provision for medical cannabis, whether in the form of a medicinal product, or cannabis preparations. Products such as CBD oil, hemp oil, foods and other products which contain cannabis derivatives are not legally permitted to be used in Grenada
The Drug Abuse (Prevention and Control) Act CAP 84A of Grenada makes no provisions for research on medical and scientific uses and other legal use, as appropriate, containing narcotic (including cannabis and its resin) or psychotropic substances subject to the international control system), nor medical marijuana.
Considering your participation at COPOLAD II, how the best practices exchange between the CELAC and the EU countries facilitated by COPOLAD is valuable for Grenada?
Grenada started participating in COPOLAD meetings and seminars from 2016.This has been very beneficial to Grenada. During COPOLAD activities, participating countries are provided with the opportunity to share experiences regarding best practices, successes and challenges related to drug programmes and related topics. This sharing among participants has provided very valued information and has added to existing knowledge in this regard.
The meetings have also served to as a reminder that although in some ways different, many countries are faced with very similar problems related to problematic drug use and other associated social issues.
Such forums also emphasise that collectively and collaboratively we can harness our efforts, skills and expertise to the benefit of each other in addressing the prevailing problems associated with substance use.
Additionally, Grenada has benefited from the COPOLAD online training courses. Professionals who work in the field of drug prevention and related fields in Grenada, inclusive of school counsellors and health providers, have been actively engaged in the training, with increased capacity over the last two years. Grenada is very appreciative of these scholarship opportunities and expresses sincere gratitude to COPOLAD.
The European Commission is preparing a third phase of this programme, therefore COPOLAD will be back at the beginning of 2021.