APIA,02 OCTOBER 2017 (TALAMUA ONLINE)–Methamphetamine, the illegal drug popularly known as ‘ice’ has increased by 10% in Samoa and law enforcers are worried that unless determined action is taken to stop this, it will become a serious threat to Samoa’s young people.

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The statistics were made public by the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Justice, Courts and Administration (MJCA), Papali’i John Taimalelagi Papali’i at the public consultation and review of the Drug and Narcotics Act 1967 last week.

Papali’i made a public plea for help to stop the emerging threat of methamphetamine that he said enters the country from overseas.

He said in 2015, only 2.1% of methamphetamine was found in Samoa based on the number of people prosecuted and convicted.

“In 2017, that number rose to 10.8% and it is not a good picture for a small country like ours,” said Papali’i.

He pointed out that despite the efforts by the police and other stakeholders trying to bring in and prosecute those caught with the drug, Papali’i believes the drug still finds a way into Samoa.

He said if methamphetamine is in the country, what could stop other drugs such as cocaine, and ecstasy from getting into the country.

“There will be worse problems if these other drugs reach our shores,” said Papali’i.

At the consultation, he asked the public for input to help better the service already on hand.

“We need solutions and I am sure your input will contribute to a better life for our people.”

He also touched on the increase usage of marijuana, and the Governments move to increase the penalty on such crimes, and whilst the Drugs and Narcotics Act 1967 is out dated, the penalty was amended and increased to 14 years imprisonment for the possession and cultivation of marijuana.

As for drugs such as methamphetamine, it is life imprisonment for anyone caught with it.

Papali’i explained that the negative impact of drugs creates other offences such as assault, theft, armed with dangerous weapons and/or causing serious bodily harm.

He said the threat posed by drugs and narcotics was the reason behind Chief Justice Patu Tiava’asu’e Falefatu Sapolu’s initiative to create a Drug and Alcohol Court.

“The Drug and Alcohol Court not only finds out why the accused use or sell drugs, but also solutions to help rehab the accused,” he said.

He urged the organisers of the consultation and the public to discuss not just the problem, but to come up with solutions to the emerging problem.

A representative from Nofoali’i village, Lesina Afamasaga blamed the increase of methamphetamine in Samoa on the “dishonesty of workers at border control.”

“The Government must return all drugs found in containers back to where they came from to avoid our people stealing and selling them at a price,” said Lesina.

The consultation has moved to Savai’i Island. pacnews [/restrict]