The 2019 Guyana Drug Information Network (GUYDIN) Report revealed that more than 500 persons were charged with drug-related offences during the course of last year.The GUYDIN report highlighted the national effort to address the drug problem by agencies involved in both supply and demand reduction activities.According to the report, those persons charged stemmed from a total of 334 drug seizures by the various law enforcement agencies and 22 marijuana eradication operations in 2018.Of the 500 persons charged, 110 of them were convicted for trafficking narcotics, that is, 89 for trafficking marijuana and 21 for trafficking cocaine.Additionally, a total of 38 were convicted for the possession of narcotics in 2018 – 14 for possession of marijuana, five for possession of cocaine, and seven for possession of other drugs such as ecstasy, heroin and meth, as well as none convictions for possession of drug paraphernalia.This comes at a time when the coalition Government has recently taken steps to remove custodial sentences for small amounts of marijuana possession – a move done while the Government was supposed to be in caretaker mode. The administration was criticised not actively pursuing this issue over the past four years in office with the Opposition saying that it is now doing so to garner political mileage after topping to a No-Confidence Motion back in December.Nevertheless, the GUYDIN report went on to reveal that a total of 579,412 kilograms of narcotics were taken off of the streets in 2018. This included 1,050.3 kg marijuana, 182.6 kg cocaine, 0.72 kg ecstasy, 0.30 kg heroin, and 0.10 kg meth that was seized by authorities last year and a total of 578,178 kilograms of marijuana plants destroyed during that period.A further breakdown of the 334 seizures highlighted that three of these were made at facilities controlled by the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA). Two of these seizures were handed over to the Guyana Police Force and the other to the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU). The seizures by GRA- Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU) yielded a total of 7,140 kilograms of marijuana.Meanwhile, annual seizure reports from the Police Force’s Narcotics Branch show a total of 275 seizures with 516.11 kilograms last year. This included: 218 seizures for cannabis, amounting to 504.55 kilograms, 50 seizures, totalling 11.09 kilograms of cocaine, and seven seizures of ecstasy yielding 0.47 kilograms.With regards to seizures by CANU, this amounted to 59 with a total 718 kilograms for 2018. Of this total, 22 seizures were for cannabis equating to 545.78 kilograms of which 0.16 kilograms were cannabis seeds; 29 seizures were for cocaine totalling 171.58 kilograms; and eight seizures were of other drugs such as 0.304 kilograms of heroin, ecstasy totalling 0.533 kilogram, and meth totalling 0.1 kilogram.Furthermore, the report also outlined that last year about 8,475 pieces of drug evidence was submitted to the Guyana Forensics Science Laboratory for analysis of presence and identification from the various Police Divisions (A-G) and CANU.These pieces of evidence were a part of 480 drug case investigations, of which 478 cases were processed. Overall, about 387 returned positive results for cannabis, 82 for cocaine and 17 for ecstasy.In addition, 2018 saw a total of 2,535 drivers charged for Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol (DUI) with 14 fatal accidents as a result of drunk driving. According to the GUYDIN report, this data is an illustration that more sensitisation must be done to make persons aware of the dangers of drinking and driving.Over the years, the GUYDIN has been performing situational analysis on Guyana’sdrug problem and publishing national drug reports that has been evolving continuously as new information and indicators become available to better monitor and combat the drug issue.Alcohol, marijuana and tobacco have traditionally been the main substances used and misused across Guyana including among the youth population. In fact, the 2016 Household Drug Prevalence Survey indicated that the rate of binge drinking among males was 64% and 46% among females.Further, a regional analysis indicated that over 60% of young people in Guyana engaged in the risky activity of binge drinking – the highest in the region.According to the GUYDIN report, a 2013 study on drug use among students revealed that more than 40% of teenagers nationwide are not aware of the risks associated with any form of substance use. To this end, the need for prevention programmes to target this group was underscored so that young people are equip with the information and tools necessary to make informed decisions about drugs and its consequences.For the period under review, the Public Health Ministry, the Education Ministry, Social Life Issues and other agencies were involved in a number of drug awareness programmes as a prevention measure. In fact, last year these programmes reached over 3,000 persons and were geared toward providing information about drugs and its adverse effects if used, misuse or abused.In addition, these agencies also focused on building the capacity of professionals working in the fields of prevention and treatment to address the issue of drug use in schools, communities and other at-risk populations.An analysis of treatment data for 2018 from the Phoenix Recovery Project and the Salvation Army Men’s Social Service found that a total of 106 persons – 99 males and seven females – sought treatment, with 41% of them having abused cocaine, 37% abused marijuana and 19% for alcohol abuse.Moreover, the data also found that 36 of the 106 persons in treatment were also diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder and 56 persons had at least one encounter with the criminal justice system.
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