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Getting it right on drugs

0728_wvmarijuanaThe time has come for Barbados to set out its plan of action to pave the way forward in combatting the scourge of illegal drugs.

Manager of the National Council of Substance Abuse, Yolande Forde, said yesterday that the recent seizure of over 2,000 pounds of marijuana on one of the island’s beaches was evidence that Barbados was not spared from the illegal drug trade.

“Like most other countries we are reminded that where there is demand there is supply, and where there is that kind of supply obviously there is the demand. It reminds us how critical our work is day by day,” she told those attending a two-day National Consultation for Barbados’ Anti-Drug Plan at the Amaryllis Hotel.

She added that like other countries, Barbados was affected by money laundering, corruption and violent crime, which all came about as a result of the drug trade.

To combat these ills, Forde stressed the need for the country to have an anti-drug plan, which would outline the work programme to be undertaken in each area of drug control, show the inter-connectivity of that work, the goals to be met, the targets to be reached and how they would be achieved.

“Indeed, Barbados does not have that single, comprehensive document, but I am happy to say that it soon will,” the NCSA manager assured participants. She told those present that they were the national stakeholders in drug control and formed a “very critical plank” in the preparation of that plan.

She added that an important component of the anti-drug strategy was the development and adoption of a comprehensive plan which set out the country’s national policies, defines priorities and apportions responsibility for the various drug control efforts.

Forde further stated that the development of such a plan would also underscore Barbados’ commitment to the Hemispheric Drug Strategy which emphasised that the drug problem must be addressed from a multidisciplinary perspective.

Meanwhile, representative of the Organisation of American States, Francis McBarnette, further stressed that the existence of an anti-drug plan was critical in the assessment of the national efforts to deal with the challenge of illegal drugs.

“In the specific case of Barbados, the absence of an anti-drug plan has been highlighted in several reports of the Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism,” he said. He explained that the MEM was a diagnostic tool designed by all OAS member states to evaluate the actions taken by individual countries and the hemisphere as a whole in dealing with the drug problem.

McBarnette warned that without an anti-drug plan, actions tended to lack strategic focus and were scattered.

“An anti-drug plan, by its very nature, will set goals, identify specific activities and direct resources within a defined time horizon,” he said, advising that plans should also include a champion and an Advocate.

He also stressed that anti-drug plans were important for the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission of the OAS because they provided the framework to capture anti-drug efforts.

“In the past, too many public/policy decisions were based on ‘good intentions’ than on scientific evidence and this led in many instances to unrealistic goals. The emphasis now for Member states should be to establish and implement drug policies that are evidence-based with goals and actions that are attainable,” he asserted.

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