Drug war needs better weapons

Editorial

A COLLECTIVE effort is required to address the growing number of people arrested and charged in relation to the cultivation and sale of marijuana.
This problem has been around for a long time in our communities and the increase in cases related to it is alarming, to say the least.
Almost every day this newspaper will carry a report of a marijuana-related crime being committed.
The number of arrests may be good for police records but there is growing concerns that the law itself is not tough enough to bring this problem to its knees so that our police officers can focus on other things.
The deterrent we have rests on the provisions of the Drug Act 1954, which provides for a maximum jail term of two years. With that kind of punishment, we might as well give convicted drug traffickers or growers a slap on the wrist.
The Act deals only with four offences – cultivation, harvesting, processing and the making of marijuana.
There is now argument that this law should be amended to take into account other drugs and related offences, like the more damaging and serious drugs like cocaine and ice.
We only have to look north to find Indonesia, the biggest Muslim country in the world with more than 260 million people, which has anti-drug laws that are some of the toughest on the planet.
In Indonesia, if you are so stupid as to traffic drugs, you will most likely lose your life as that is what their law says: Traffic drugs equals death sentence.
Our soft penalties are definitely not going to be a strong enough deterrent.
They will not protect our communities and children from this cancer, especially when drug trafficking is lucrative business and the more people that can be turned into addicts, the more money the traffickers make.
Already this year millions of kina worth of cocaine landed on one of our beaches, and we do not even have the facilities to test it.
So let’s review the Drug Act to make the laws so strong and the penalties so tough that they create an atmosphere of fear among those who traffic drugs.
Marijuana is largely grown in the mountainous Highlands region where the climate is dry and cool, giving rise to a product that is said to be powerful and highly sought after.
Police say that in NCD and Central, marijuana is brought in on a daily basis.
For other centres like Kimbe, marijuana is flown in from farms in the Highlands.
For Lae and Madang, the drug comes by road.
People say it is the role of police to provide security and make our communities safe but we should remember that it is also our duty to assist.
Clearly police cannot be everywhere to be our eyes and ears and to guard and protect.
They need the assistance of the communities to find and arrest lawbreakers. Information, therefore, is the key.
If people have information then they must pass it on so that the police can act on it. Let us not aid and abet this illegal and demonic activity by our silence.
With trade and business agreements between Papua New Guinea and Indonesia already in place, it will not hurt if we ask for guidance in the development of tougher, more effective laws to deal with our drug problems.

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