Drugs policy change needed

There is one issue affecting our islands as a whole for which the candidates’ public response seems to be the same across the board.

The current strategy has failed us and yet we expect with the continued use of the current and proposed policies to have different results; this is the definition of insanity.

The issue is that of drugs abuse. Our current policy is zero tolerance – prohibition. The last hundred years have taught us that drug prohibition is a failed strategy; what prohibition does succeed in accomplishing is the transfer of control of the drug trade from law-abiding citizens to criminals by definition. I am not suggesting that an immediate end to this prohibition is the solution; what I am suggesting is that if we want the situation to be different we must change our strategy. At this point allow me to state for the record that I do not use illegal drugs and I am against drug abuse. I am a well-qualified and educated young Caymanian professional who believes that we should approach our problems with sophistication and logic and not simply depend on tradition, the status quo, or those with agendas not in the best interest of our country.

In the USA 85 per cent of those who use illegal drugs use ganja alone. While I do not have the statistic for Cayman we can reasonably assume that the number is similar. Ganja use should therefore be our first priority as it directly affects the largest number in our society. Our way of dealing with ganja users is to send them to Northward. While incarcerated the users somehow continue to obtain and use ganja. They are eventually released and as a result of the criminal branding they find it difficult to fully integrate back into society and often spiral back into a pattern of abuse. We must ask ourselves, ‘Which is worse; the smoking of the ganja or the effects on the individual of our so called solution?’ In the scenario described our police have been diverted from focusing on violent offenders, society has paid $50,000 per year to jail the user and the life of the ‘criminal’ has been irreparably damaged not by the ganja but by our policies.

I believe that the above position is shared by many in our Islands however, because of the official policy and so-called prevailing view the decriminalization position remains taboo. Let us, therefore, ask the many candidates if, upon election, they will work to amend the law to remove prison terms for the possession and use of ganja and within the limits of our dependent status move our policy towards the regulation and control of ganja in the same way that we regulate the more dangerous drugs alcohol and tobacco.

Christoph Barnett

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