STEPPING UP THE WAR ON DRUGS
The 2005 national report on drug abuse used 2004 as its basis year and was published last week. This suggests an unfortunate - one may even call it an unacceptable - lag between the basis year and the year of assessment 18 months later.
Data collection demands a greater sense of urgency. There can be no valid reason why data for 2004 should not be collated by the first quarter of 2005 and the report put together by mid-2005 for a national drug policy to be formulated within three months of that.
What emerges from this late report is that the most popular drug is cannabis with ecstasy a close second. Cocaine, heroin, LSD and amphetamines in that order follow these. Given the current policy that maintains a zero tolerance towards drug abuse, even as the necessary services are offered for those who do abuse, the picture is not a pretty one; nor is it completely disheartening.
There are silver linings provided by the fact that a third of heroin users seek and receive support services to kick the potentially lethal habit. Even in the case of cannabis, Malta has one of the smallest percentages of users aged 15 to 64 ( with Bulgaria and Romania ) in Europe.
During 2004, 1,525 cases made use of treatment agencies. One final statistic: Arrests made by the Drug Squad increased enormously between 2003 and 2004 and 64 per cent of those taken into custody were aged between 19 and 30 with 89 per cent of these being men.
There is a positive note too. The police are doing a fine job in cracking down on drugs. Their success rate in homing in on hauls, discovering considerable amounts of heroin, cocaine and thousands of ecstasy pills that would otherwise have found their way to market, is well documented. All this, of course, points to a strong demand. Sadly and tragically, there are a number who inhabit the murky world of drug trafficking.
The bottom line of any national policy on drug abuse, from trafficking to supply to big deals, must take as its starting point the simple truth that our youngsters are too precious an asset to be corrupted by drugs when they should be looking forward to taking on the challenges of life.
Last February, as a counter-point to this ideal, a ministerial reply by the Education Minister stated that 23 students in state and four in Church schools, ranging in age from 14 to 17, were found in possession of drugs on school premises. How is it that these children felt safe enough to carry drugs to school, presumably from home? Or did they purchase them on the way to, or from, school? With whose money?
The idea of a 14-year-old strutting willingly to school and hoping to make it through the morning in a haze of marijuana is unsettling. So we remain enraged by the thought that dealers and their suppliers and the big fish that keep suppliers in business take risks that corrupt teenagers at the younger end of their teens.
The war on drugs is not won, far from it. The urgent need for a national policy that embraces the entire activity, prevention, use and abuse, dealers, suppliers, treatment services and rehabilitation is self-evident. The sooner the policy is in place, the better. There is not a day to be lost.
"The idea of a 14-year-old strutting willingly to school and hoping to make it through the morning in a haze of marijuana is unsettling"
Hoping? What, do they expect hes going to fucking keel over and die, because he came to school stoned?
Jesus, weed was the only reason I made it through highschool
Jesus... The LAST thing we need is to step up the war on drugs!
What is my country coming to?
Please, god, nature, karma, someone, wipe out my country. Use your imagination. Hint: Natural Diseasters!
Oh wait... actually could you just take out the whole human race? Thanks