Toughening up on drugs

Fred Wesley | Friday, January 26, 2018
The revelation that a team of police officers is on the island of Totoya in the Lau Group conducting drug raids is interesting.
Fred Wesley
Fred Wesley

Tovu Village headman Lorima Tupou said the vanua was working with the Fiji Police Force to fight illicit drugs.

The police, he said, started their raids last week and uprooted 45 plants from one village.

Mr Tupou said they were happy with the progress of the raids, adding that the villagers had been monitoring youths for a very long time after discovering that marijuana was being circulated on the island.

The villagers, he said, addressed this issue in several meetings, yet still suspected youths continued to be involved in illegal activities.

What has transpired does raise the issue of how effective awareness campaigns have been and the impact this has had on different segments of the community.

The debate on marijuana usage and whether it should be legalised continues in the US for instance, with a number of states leaning towards the medical usage of the drug.

In our context, marijuana is illegal.

Talk is cheap when it comes to the issue of drugs.

We all have a stake in the drug war. The question is where we sit on the issue.

Surely many of us will no doubt accept that we do have a responsibility to uphold important values that make life what it is in Fiji.

We can either be part of the initiative to create awareness about the negative impact of illicit drugs on society, or be a part of the process of helping it thrive.

It is difficult to shrug aside the fact that drugs are a part of our lives.

They come in many forms, from marijuana to hard drugs like cocaine and heroin.

Smoking of marijuana, it seems, is rife in many parts of the country.

The drug trade is lucrative and has clothed and fed many who harbour no second thoughts about its harmful effects on users and their dependents.

To survive, traders have had to come up with innovative ways to do business as police clamp down on the trade.

As the force targets dealers who are constantly adapting to their methods of detection, it needs the support and encouragement of members of the public.

Awareness starts at home.

One of the dangers we face is "acceptance" — when the drug habit becomes an acceptable part of growing up.

It is important that we place some value on what is acceptable and what is not.

There is a need for awareness at primary and high school level.

There should also be a platform that offers alternatives for farmers now engaged in marijuana farming and wish to make a change.

We should be advocating approaches that are conducive to fostering open and honest discussions.

Perhaps that is something we should be focusing on now and not just on International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking on June 26.

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