With new ganja law, health ministry sees need to train more counsellors

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Health Minister Dr. Frank Anthony believes that there is a need to train more counsellors as persons found with up to 15 grams of marijuana will no longer face jail time, but are required to undergo mandatory counselling.

During a recent interview with the News Room, he also said that more counsellors are needed as Guyana improves its countrywide mental health support services.

And to respond to this need, he said the Health Ministry will be training scores of health professionals in the coming years.

“… we’re going to train healthcare professionals at every health centre to have some basic counselling skills so that they will be able to offer some first-level counselling.

“It’s going to be a process and we’re going to train a lot of people,” the Health Minister said.

The decision to train more people ties in with new initiatives that will be rolled out because of the newly-passed Suicide Prevention Bill.

That Bill provides for the establishment of counselling centres with multiple purposes, including the provision of addiction counselling.

The removal of jail time for persons found with the small quantity of marijuana comes after the passage of the government’s Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Bill that was passed in the National Assembly in November.

Instead of jail time, persons nabbed with one to 15 grams of marijuana will undergo mandatory counselling. Those nabbed with more than 15 grams of marijuana but no more than 30 grams of the drug will be required to provide community service.

It is important to note that these amendments do not decriminalise the possession of marijuana. Possession of this narcotic, even just one gram, remains a criminal offence.

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