Frustrating work without legislation

Editorial

IMAGINE giving one’s best and actually accomplishing an assigned task only to be denied any reward for it.
Or imagine spending days and weeks being on alert, snooping and inquiring, and eventually spotting the quarry and taking a deadly accurate aim at it.
But alas, the hunter suddenly finds himself unable to fire the fatal shot to end the hunt!
In a sense, the police and PNG Customs team responsible for busting a guns-and-drugs operation in the capital city must have felt that way when unable to charge a suspect who has since admitted in court to the arms and ammunition charges slapped on him.
But when it came the production of an illegal substance (methamphetamine) in a hotel room, the team could not do much as there is no legislation for that.
Police and other agencies of state are faced with a double dilemma when dealing with both local cannabis or marijuana and deadlier substances such as meth or ice.
The existing legislation on drugs is so lax that the lower courts can only impose jail terms of less than a year for offences.
Then in cases such as when a suspect is caught in possession of or actually producing meth, there is no legislation prescribing charges and penalties.
Without such legislation, PNG is becoming a haven or transit point for drug dealers peddling harmful drugs.
The call has been made on many occasions by both police officers and court official for tougher laws and or the enactment of laws that are relevant to the changing times and trends in global crime.
Senior police officer Donald Yamasombi who has been at the helm of the joint operation that resulted in the arrest of hotel owner Jaimie Pang, has again lamented the inability to charge the suspect for the crime.
He has called on lawmakers to get a relevant law passed.
There should not be any further delay in the passage of the Controlled Substances Bill which could give the long-awaited power to authorities to deal with those trading or producing substances such as meth.
It is very frustrating when local State agencies with assistance from overseas, have succeeded in pinning down suspected drug dealers as in recent cases cannot charge them for their crimes.
Time was when such crimes were only heard about on the news or in documentaries. Reality is that such activities have reached PNG shores and will only increase in volume and frequency.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse says methamphetamine is a powerful, highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system.
It takes the form of a white, odourless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder that easily dissolves in water or alcohol.
Meth was developed early in the 20th Century from its parent drug, amphetamine, and was used originally in nasal decongestants and bronchial inhalers.
Like amphetamine, methamphetamine causes increased activity and talkativeness, decreased appetite, and a pleasurable sense of well-being or euphoria.
Meth differs from amphetamine in that, at comparable doses, much greater amounts of the drug get into the brain, making it a more potent stimulant.
It also has longer-lasting and more harmful effects on the central nervous system.
These characteristics make it a drug with high potential for widespread misuse.
Access and abuse of these substances is not a real worry for now.
However, once such activity has taken root in the country, curbing it may require drastic measures such as those applied by Indonesian and Philippine authorities.
We urge all MPs to vote for the Controlled Substances Bill when it is presented to them before the end of this year or early 2022 before the end of this Parliament.

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