As the debate rages around the legaliZation of marjiuana in Barbados, law enforcers fear that the skyrocketing cases of cannabis plant seizures during the past two years, could get even worse this year.
The latest official data from the Police Drug Squad that’s been made available to Barbados TODAY this afternoon, shows significant increases, not only in plants uprooted, but in the compressed marijuana and cocaine seized by police alone.
Last year, officers dismantled 26,763 cannabis plants, just under 6,000 more than in 2012.
“And people still talking about legalising marijuana . . . and this year, we can expect even more [seizures],” a senior police officer with intimate knowledge of the drug trade declared.
The data also revealed that more than $17 million worth of cannabis, weighing 4,874 kilos and 66.67 kilos of cocaine, with an estimated value of $3.3 million were confiscated from traffickers last year.
Police said that the year before, they hauled in over $16 million in cannabis weighing 4,586 kilos and 19.42 kilos of cocaine, valued at about $971,000.
A Drug Squad official suggested that these figures represented just a drop in the bucket, bearing in mind that statistics for the entire country were still being collated.
Only yesterday, Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite said Barbados was being used as a trans-shipment point, not only for drugs, but that gangsters were deploying the modern communications technology to discuss possible strategy across regional borders.
Today, OAS Representative for Barbados, Francis McBarnette told Barbados TODAY that this country was rolling out a five-year Anti Drug Plan early next month, which would establish a mechanism to ensure that all stakeholders who take decisions on drug matters, implement them in a timely manner.
McBarnette said the roll out of the plan, which is expected to coincide with the launch of the island’s first drug treatment court on February 11, will bring all stakeholders “into one town hall setting” to talk about the drug challenge within their sector and the supply reduction and demand.
The OAS official, whose agency has been providing technical assistance and advice for establishment of the court, disclosed that a monitoring committee will also be set up which will most likely be chaired by the attorney general.
This committee, he stated, will make sure that when decisions are made, action was taken.
“The benefit of the plan is the pulling of everybody into one space and will cause action to be coordinated. It sets a framework so we can measure what is happening in the sector,” pointed out McBarnette.
“Part of the problem with plans,” he continued, “is, you have a plan . . . a lot of nice things, and after two years somebody says how effective has the plan been? Can’t say.”
The OAS representative said, too, that indicators will be put in place, “so we will be constantly looking at where the gaps are and how to fill these gaps.”
He believes the anti-drug plan is going to be a step up.
“And we are hoping that it will have an impact on the ground where the challenge is. In terms of the interdiction, in terms of making sure people who have an addiction get treatment. All the sectors will be involved,” asserted McBarnette. As far as the drug treament court is concerned, that will intervene in situations where non-violent drug addicts can be treated and assisted to “lick the habit,” rather than imprison them.