"Cannabis or alcohol? Observations
on their use in Jamaica"
M.D. Raymond PRINCE
M.Ed Rochelle GREENFIELD
M.D John MARRIOTT
im "Bulletin on Narcotics' des UNDCP, 1972, Heft 1,
Kopie der Studie finden Sie auf den Seiten der UNDCP (United Nations Office
for Drug Controll):
Für viele Details (im Kompletttext) bei denen die Wissenschaftler Forschungsbedarf
attestieren gibt es heute Studien und Ergebnisse. Die meisten im Text erwähnten
Phänomene sind heute erforscht. Viele Erkenntnisse über Cannabis wurden
erst in den 90er Jahren gewonnen und standen so den damaligen Forschenden noch
nicht zur Verfügung.
One of the striking features of the patient population of Bellevue, the large
mental hospital in Kingston, Jamaica, is the infrequency of
disturbances associated with alcohol. Of 600 admissions to one typical ward
over a two-year period, less than 2 % suffered such problems; not a single case
of chronic brain syndrome associated with alcoholism was seen and we encountered
neither delirium tremens nor alcoholic hallucinosis. The few alcohol-linked
disturbances that did occur were, moreover, in patients who contrasted sharply
with the predominantly low-income ward population in that they were from higher
income levels or were highly acculturated, having spent several years in England
or the United States or Canada.
This picture is
unexpected first because in Jamaica, a major sugar producing country, rum is
relatively cheap; and second, because it is
in marked contrast with what we know of most other Caribbean islands. For example,
annual returns indicate some 47% of admissions to mental hospital in Nassau
and 53% in Martinique are alcohol-linked  . Murphy and Sam-path  found
50% of admissions in St. Thomas (to general hospital psychiatric unit in an
area without a mental hospital) were related to alcohol use. These figures may
be compared to Chafetz's  estimate of 30% alcohol-linked admissions to American
mental hospitals and 40 % to mental hospitals in Santiago, Chile  .
of these statistics are approximate, such a gross contrast with Jamaica's 2
% of alcohol-linked admissions calls for some attempt at explanation. The hypothesis
we wish to explore here is one that has already been hinted at by Beaubrun 
. In his pioneer field survey of alcohol consumption in five Kingston suburbs,
he found that heavy drinking was more prevalent in higher income groups. He
suggested that for low-income groups "... ganja (marihuana) smoking is widespread
... and may play a role as an alcohol substitute."
is that the use of ganja as a euphoriant by low-income Jamaicans is a benevolent
alternative to alcohol and may protect them against the consequences of' alcohol
consumption-alcohol addiction, delirium tremens, chronic brain syndromes, Korsakoff
psychosis and physical sequelae such as cirrhosis of the liver.
To return to the comparison of hospitalized men with their neighbours in the
community, it will be recalled that the percentage of heavy ganja users at large
was, if anything, higher than the percentage of ganja users on the ward. This
finding would support our opinion that ganja use is not a significant
cause of psychosis. The so called "ganja psychosis" is schizophrenia occurring
in a ganja-using population.
In general this study supports the view that ganja is used as an alternative
to alcohol by low income Jamaicans. Whether it is a "benevolent" alternative
is less clear: we found no evidence however that ganja was an important cause
of mental hospitalization.