Dames: Bahamas experiences first case of fentanyl drug use

National Security Minister, Marvin Dames.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Minister of National Security Marvin Dames expressed earlier this week that he was very “disturbed” that The Bahamas had experienced its first case of fentanyl use with other associated drugs.

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine, but it is 50 to 100 times more potent, thereby meaning it is more dangerous.

“While this amount is disconcerting, its presence is more frightening due to its potency. Despite fentanyl being a prescription drug, it can also be used illegally. Consequently, the drug is not one that is obvious to detect, thereby making the fight against it even harder,” said Dames in his contribution to the 2019/2020 budget last week.

Dames said research suggests that the form of fentanyl recently found in The Bahamas has not yet been detected in South Florida or other similar markets.  He noted, however, that the discovery was disturbing because, according to United Nations Office for Drug Control (UNODC), the Bahamas is the fifth largest corridor for cocaine in the Caribbean.

“It is further posited that the flow of drugs through the country is closely associated with the Jamaican market as it is the major transit trafficking route for both Jamaican marijuana and cocaine into the North American markets.

“Meanwhile, Clarke and Frankson (2013) stated that The Bahamas is still plagued by a serious drug problem which is more enculturated as opposed to epidemic.

“Considering the presence of fentanyl, this makes our work and efforts even more important. The Government of The Bahamas has invested millions of dollars in anti-drug campaigns and programmes and will continue to do so.”

According to Dames, Counter-measures are key and this fiscal period, the National Anti-Drug Secretariat (NADS) will continue to work with COPOLAD(Cooperation Programme on Drugs Policies) and CICAD (The Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission)to move towards the creation of an Early Warning System that will allow The Bahamas to more rapidly identify and monitor new drugs entering the market and any changes in consumption patterns of the more traditional drugs.

He said the National Anti-Drug Secretariat will also continue to reprioritize and strengthen the national goals and objectives of the 2017-2022 Anti-Drug Strategic Plan, by ensuring that they are linked to both the regional strategy and the global recommendations emanating from the United Nations General Assembly Special Session.

For the 2019/2020 Budget cycle, $110,000 has been allocated to the National Anti-Drug Secretariat.