Psychiatrist calls on govt to consider resources for mental illness in marijuana legislation


Tribune Staff Reporter


WITH officials said to be finalising marijuana legislation, a local psychiatrist has called on the government to prioritise providing sufficient resources for those with mental illnesses, which she found could progress to a chronic psychotic illness with substance abuse.

Dr Tameka Johnson- Dames, who has been working at Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre for seven years, conducted a research report as a part of her medical studies last year to explore a possible association between cannabis use and psychosis in patients admitted to the facility between March 2019 and February 2021.

Through examination of 101 patient medical records, Dr Johnson-Dames found that 24 of the patients who had a diagnosis of schizophrenia had an evolution of this diagnosis, with 17 of them having also used cannabis.

Her report concluded: “Cannabis use was not found to be associated with a complicated hospital course, nor was a family history of psychiatric illness associated with increased admissions for cannabis induced psychosis. This was regardless of admission time period. However, its use was associated with the conversion of psychosis to a chronic psychotic illness.”

With these findings in mind, Dr Johnson-Dames told The Tribune this week that the problem of mental health and substance abuse should be addressed “now”. She pointed to there being just one public in-patient substance abuse programme in the country.

“Mental health wise, I feel like the resources are limited. My push isn’t to influence the government and tell them what they can do. My pitch is to give us more resources so that we can deal with a growing problem that we see,” Dr Johnson-Dames said.

“Right now we have one in-patient substance abuse programme in the country. One public programme that has limited spots, that persons are admitted on a voluntary basis. So when we deal with issues related to substance use, we need to be able to properly manage and managing means not waiting until the problem is already here.

“Not waiting until the floodgates are open, until we have an increase in cases. And then all of a sudden, we’re like, ‘Oh, boy, we need to focus on mental health’. No, let’s focus on mental health now,” she said.

Dr Johnson-Dames added: “Let’s put some resources in place with or without the legalisation, so that in the event, if it happens to our population, that legalising marijuana, or decriminalising it, and there are more cases of these illnesses, at least we can have the resources to deal with it.”

She said: “It’s all fine and good in the United States and Colorado and other places where it’s legal, but they clearly have more resources than we do. So, we can’t compare ourselves to them,” she said.

Dr Johnson-Dames said that during her time as a psychiatrist in The Bahamas she has realised that cannabis-related disorders are one of the more prominent conditions she sees.

“If we are saying there are times where the institution is full, that we don’t have any bed space, that we are losing staff, saying those things is insignificant if no one is pumping money into mental health, because there’s only so much we could do,” Dr Johnson- Dames said.

“So we truly do care about the patients, but we also realise that sometimes we are limited in resources. Sometimes we go to a clinic and there’s only two rooms available for the doctors to see patients and so we’re sharing a room to see the patient,” she said.

“If we could have a bigger presence in the community, and a bigger presence means more money being pumped into mental health care, and more money being allotted to staffing these additional services, that would be my pitch,” Dr Johnson-Dames said.

Last month, Attorney General Ryan Pinder told reporters that draft laws to decriminalise marijuana were just about complete.

He was unable to provide a timeline as to when it would be presented to Parliament.

He said there were several matters with the proposed legislation that the government was addressing based on recommendations it received from health officials and other stakeholders.

“Well, the suite of legislation has been prepared. It’s been finalised,” Mr Pinder told reporters outside the Office of the Prime Minister at the time.

“It has been handed over to the Ministry of Health as the operative ministry since it is a medical cannabis regime. They have done their review of the legislation (and) come back with some technical questions which we are addressing,” he said.

“We have also had our external consultants review the full suite of legislation. They have likewise come back with some input and some questions and some recommendations that we are incorporating in the suite. So, we’re near complete.”


AnObserver 5 days, 1 hour ago

It isn't 1962. "Reefer Madness" isn't a thing. Are they going to suggest lobotomies as a cure for female hysteria next?


bahamianson 5 days ago

Need it for the carnival also. Bey, I have to seek help for months after seeing those gals dance in the streets. Makes me want to respect women. You will need more counseling after prostitution becomes legal. Women will be.so respected after that. The church will need donations after that.


carltonr61 4 days, 18 hours ago

It is kind of technical to understand Marijuana addiction because based on the THC percentage, personal tolerance and years of use all combine at different levels. Some Persons realize Marijuana addiction only after they stop use which is followed by extreme anxiety, sleeplessness, irritability and perceived change in personality. Cannabis over at 18% or higher releases so much Domaine or pleasure chemicsls that a person then becomes addicted. Psychosis almost never occurs at THC levels below 8%. 1970 THC was around 3% so the mist weed did was make you laugh then extremely hungry as a medicinal property. The CBD component in cannabis is not psychoactive like THC and is the best natural pain reducer for acute backache firms of cancer pains. The body also produces these medicinal components in the brain but cannabis has a higher concentration which acts also on stress, mood and memory. Because cannabis affects the brain C1 and bodily nervous system C2 it also acts as an aphrodisiac mostly for females. Then as a pain killer it never shuts down nerve X, as synthetic pain killers are known to cause extreme addiction and death. Depending on the form used the bio availability or time, strength and duration the effects is determined.


carltonr61 4 days, 18 hours ago

The Bahamas Medical Association dropped the ball to say it nicely on Gambling Mental Health. They are criminally culpable in ignoring WHO/PAHO, ICD 10- Z72.6 says something about gambling. American Association of Psychiatry co-lists cocaine and gambling as DSM-5 for their equal destruction of personal finance, family, evil inducing moral changes, neglect and preoccupation when comes to children their welfare and education. At a macro level gambling also destroyed Out Island Settlements banking, changed the social and moral fabric and collapse of 99% church activity. Responsible Gaming around the world avoids personal, family and society collapse as described has happened to Bahamian females and with it child welfare neglect, generational educational delinquency, prostitution, break up of families and all bad things. BMA should have insisted on gaming houses with government partners enduring that the help is available wherever gaming houses exist. BMA lost out on Gaming billions for certified Gaming Councilors. As a result of gambling not receiving political and medical mandate as a mental health issue thousand of females will continue to work for the numbers man. Without providing mental health help care gambling is nothing short of blood money. Marijuana is here like an island wide rain. It is everywhere. Some kids smoke it and many more do not. The crime first develops in parents and guardians being absent which allows peer contacts to have greater influence. Absentee patenting is dangerous as rich and poor have no time for healthy parent child relationships and bonding. Most adolescents smoke cannabis firstly and mist important - to belong. To belong to a group that us giving them attention and saying hey you are cool. Once that comfort zone has been reached among young smokers for a sustained period it is simply too late. Parents never notice the resulting loss of short term memory but school results will show. Neither the always sleeping stress less happy behavior that will follow into non productive adulthood.


carltonr61 4 days, 8 hours ago

The bottom line is that The Bahamas Christian Council remained deaf to the spiritual and human suffering caused by gambling addiction blindsided politically because the moneybiys greases the entire reign of the political spectrum with silence money thus corrupting the Ministry of Health and the Bahamas Medical Association along with Thec Gaming Board of The Bahamas. Yes they see persons gambling every second for hours each day of the week sparing none as their brains become spewed with Dopermine the reward and pleasure medicine of the brain. That is a spiritual worship of expecting sweer money reward each moment each cent each dollar. When gaming grows from entertainment to a compulsive disorder that you dream of numbers, wake to numbers, ask your children what they dream compulsively gamble at the mention of any number, or see gambling paraphernalia like outdoor TV screens, headlines etc. all aid in handicapping females to gamble mental illness which our political directorate refuse to address according to world standards. I queried a job post at Gaming Board asking whether they knew of Addiction, that they oversee Gaming and the answer was that is not their business.


Commenting has been disabled for this item.