Rima Saade Turk, 48 years, Secretary General at Nusroto Assiciations, drug and rehabilitation center, Cenacle Centre of the Son of Man, Lebanon

Why are you here?

I am here because my organization is member of the World Federation Against Drugs and because I am nominated to be the representative of Asia in the board of WFAD. I want to share experiences with other grass-root organizations and I want to increase our knowledge on drugs and treatment.

What has been the most interesting at the Forum?

The judges from Belgium, the US and Jamaica who talked about Drug Treatment Courts. We don’t have Drug Treatment Courts in Lebanon. The addicts there often end up in crowded jails where the situation is terrible.

How is the drug situation in Lebanon?

It is poor. There are many who use drugs and a lot of trafficking of drugs. Drugs are everywhere – on the streets, night clubs, in schools and university. Right now we have a lot of refugees from Syria and many of them are addicted.
Heroin, Cocaine and Captagon tablets are usual, the problem is increasing. The use of illicit drugs increased from 2005 to 2013 with 47 per cent. Lebanon needs a strategic plan to fight drugs, we need alternatives and capacity – we have nothing. All the grass-root organizations, especially ours, have a difficult task.

What do you think about legalization of cannabis?

I hope that they realize the danger with cannabis. The drug is killing the capacity of our youth. I am so happy because I see that everybody here at the Forum is against legalization of cannabis. Together we can take a powerful stand against legalization.

What is your best argument against cannabis?

Cannabis kills the IQ of our youth.

Anton Resare, 18 years, works at a bowling arena in Strängnäs, Sweden 

Why are you here at the Forum?

I am a member of Smart Youth and I heard that volunteers were needed here. We help visitors and delegates and we give out diplomas to the speakers.

How is the drug situation in Strängnäs?

I don’t think there is that big problem, relatively. Sure I have friends who have tried and a lot of teens drink alcohol. But never me – I have never smoked tobacco or drinken alcohol, my mother is a nurse and my big role model. I don’t want to destroy my body.

What is your best argument against cannabis?

We don’t need another legal drug to add to alcohol and tobacco. There are a lot of myths around it, for example that cannabis is a medicine. Cannabis is not safe, it damages the whole body. I want to enjoy life to the fullest.

Faustin Onyango, 27 years, Mapambano Centre for Children Rights, Mkurangi, Tanzania

What is the most interesting with the Forum?

To meet participants from all over the world, to be able to share experience and knowledge. It is the first time I am outside of the African continent, exciting!

How is the drug situation in Tanzania?

We have a growing drug problem unfortunately, almost every family have at least one member with an addiction. Alcohol is the most common, we have a lot of locally produced beverages that can be toxic and are sold cheap. Among the illicit drugs cannabis is the most common, but we also have problem with cocaine and heroin. My organization works with preventative interventions and information towards youth and parents.

Is legalization discussed in your country?

No, most of the people are totally against drugs. But there is a lack of equipment for the police and customs to stop the trafficking via our airports and harbors. Khat and cannabis is grown in the corn fields illegally. We are concerned. Marijuana is not good, especially for vulnerable youth and the risk for psychic damage is big.

Mariana Hede, 40 years and Ammie Karlsson Pye, 55 years, Coordinates of drug and alcohol prevention in Västerås, Sweden 

Why are you here?

Mariana : To get more and enhanced knowledge about the drug situation in both Sweden and in the world and to hear what kind of prevention actually works.

Ammi : We want to listen to those who actually done the studies about cannabis, like Madeline Meier, and not only hear it second hand.

What has been the most interesting?

Mariana : Professor Bertha Madras was great. She underlined the role of parents. We are right now working with a program to support parents.

Ammi : To hear about the Dunedin study (one of the studies that show that you get a lower IQ from cannabis) makes it easier for us to go out and talk about this. We have better knowledge after this lecture.

Do you think the Forum will make a difference?

Mariane : Yes, even if we work in different ways and to some extent also with different things we have the same goal. I fell the global atmosphere when people from the all over the world work for the same aim. It is super cool!

Ammi : We just heard a presentation about Malawi. It is good that they bring attention to a small country who tries to change even though they don’t have any money to work with the issue. One person in the audience came up to them after and started to suggest different projects. Then I got the confirmation that the conference is important from a global viewpoint. It is exciting to be part of that.

What do you think about the wave of legalization that moves around the world?

Mariana : It is horrible and we must work actively against it. Yesterday we heard a Dutch speaker talking about the consequences of a more liberal policy.

Ammi : The Colorado experience is not positive either; yesterday we heard that the traffic accidents have increased. The trial in England where they allowed cannabis for personal use was stopped after two years. There are many examples that legalizing another drug is not good.

What is your best argument against cannabis?

Mariana : That it lowers your IQ and it is enough that you use cannabis before pregnancy for it to influence your future child.

Ammi : The IQ argument is good both to youth and professionals. It seems like an argument that reaches out.

Maria Fava, Malta, Mayor, represents 68 municipalities 

What does World Forum means for you?

I think it is important to find out what other countries do to lessen the problem with drugs around the world, how they work with prevention. Here we can exchange information and get ideas that maybe can be implemented in Malta. World Forum Against Drugs is a very important forum for us who are engaged in this issue.

How is the drug situation on Malta?

Ecstasy is very common on Malta; it might have to do with the wide spread night club tradition. The most common drug besides form alcohol is cannabis. The trafficking of drugs has increased and the demand has increased. The authorities do a pretty good job to keep the smugglers and profiteers away, recently the police took down a couple of big networks.

What is your best argument around cannabis?

Legalization is not going to solve any problems; the black market will be there anyway. In the end it is always criminals who make money, they are one step ahead. But we can work more to reduce the use of drugs, we must involve parents more and invest more on education of youth already in an early age.

Eva Skärstrand, Public Health Agency of Sweden 

What is the most interesting here in your opinion?

The most interesting here is, in my opinion, that many different speakers in an excellent way succeeded to capture my attention. They came from different parts of the world and talked for example around treatment.

How is the drug situation at home?

The drug situation in Stockholm is under control in my opinion. We have a small decrease of the use of cannabis in general. But a small increase among young boys between 16 to 20 years. Drug issues are given priority in Stockholm, and a lot is about how much resources are provided in order to keep the use down.

What do you think about the legalization debate?

I don’t like the international legalization debate around cannabis since I take part of reports that clearly show how dangerous cannabis is for a growing brain. There is no reason to legalize another drug; we already have tobacco and alcohol.

Maj-Inger Klingvall, 68, Stockholm Sweden, former minister and ambassador, today chairperson of WOCAD 

What at the Forum is most interesting for you?

The most interesting here is the amount of people from a lot of prominent organizations from basically the whole world. To get the possibility to participate in the discussions and listen to the speakers has been very productive. The Forum is an important arena against drugs.

What is your opinion about the drug situation?

The increase of the New Psychoactive Substances among young people is the scariest; the use of cannabis among young people is also worrisome.

And your comments about the legalization debate?

There has been a special focus on the wave of legalization that is spreading around the world. I became very upset and angry when I heard about the strong economic power that lies behind the demand for legalization. For them it is all about the money. It is our responsibility to provide facts and information and educate the youth about these issues.


Pernilla Rönnlid
Sven Liljesson
Bruce Clark

The interviews are translations from Drugnews article, the original in Swedish can be found here: http://drugnews.nu/2014/05/20/roster-vimlet-pa-world-forum/
Translation made by Linda Nilsson, WFAD

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