Guyana’s problem is not just the export of drugs but local consumption

Dear Editor,
The recent letter to SN titled ‘The level of resources committed to reducing the drug trade should also be given to a comprehensive drug demand reduction programme’ (April 27) spurred this letter. I’ve been meaning to write on this issue for some time. Guyana’s problem is not only an export or transshipment problem, it is also a local consumption problem. There is a direct correlation between more drugs in Guyana and more local drug use. The letter I cited makes a fundamental mistake in failing to point out that the level of resources is meagre on both fronts. The rise of the narco-cartels has been accompanied by the rise of local consumption and the proliferation of addicts in our society.

We have our own demand problem in Guyana. It is a monstrosity. Not only has this government stood idly by as criminals traffic cocaine to citizens of other countries, but it has stood fiddling as those same criminals traffic marijuana and cocaine to Guyanese, mostly the young and vulnerable. But the government gets incensed and downright feisty when this newly minted army of addicts with an expensive habit in a destitute land who owe their addled minds to those like Roger Khan, steal, rob, plunder and commit wanton and senseless crimes. The government wants them wiped off the face of the earth. It wants justice for the people harmed by these addicted souls. It fails to build any credible institutions for combating the problem although it is able to legally tax illegal ill-gotten narco-wealth. Those who engender crime appear to be untouchable. Those who buy cocaine, get high and commit murder in search of the next hit are indicted, while those who import and sell the cocaine walk free. Those who buy a gun to commit a petty crime get jail, while the gun runner enjoys a life of luxury. Those who launder narco-money are captains of industry while those who snatch a chain serve time. Crime is bloody crime. An equal brush should be applied to all crime and criminals. The problem with the inequality and unfairness of punishment is that it leads to criminal competition. There is an addict coming to a crack house near you.

Yours faithfully,
Michael Maxwell

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