The Narcotics Act 1967 is outdated and screaming for attention.
That’s how the Samoa Law Reform Commission (S.L.R.C) which is tasked to revisit the act in attempts by government to detain the growing number of drug and narcotics related offenses in the country.
To that extend, discussion papers to update the 50-year old act are now with Cabinet for approval before public consultations begin.
However the S.R.L.C review has unveiled some alarming findings.
For instance, the S.L.R.C found that “Compared to the overseas jurisdictions such as Australia, New Zealand and Tonga, Samoa’s current Narcotics Act is outdated and does not address all of the issues that are addressed under these model laws.”
But perhaps the most eye raising discovery by the Commission pertains to drug related arrests and prosecution.
“The available statistics do not demonstrate the growing trend of methamphetamine use in the country. In 2016 alone, there have been reported instances involving methamphetamine.”
However the Commission’s review concluded that not all of the methamphetamine cases are reported.
“Underreporting could be due to a lack of resources, equipment and training for Samoa law enforcement agencies to adequately detect and prosecute methamphetamine cases.
“Accordingly, it is unclear to what extent methamphetamine production and use is a problem in Samoa, however there is evidence of its existence and a need to better detect and respond to it.”
Cited as less common offences only four cases of possession of narcotics such as methamphetamine was reported and prosecuted in the past eight years and one case for possession of cocaine was recorded in 2011.
It noted that available statistics cites marijuana as the most commonly abused illegal drug in Samoa, being a Class B drug.
And most offences relate to low-level offences such as possession of marijuana.
The highest number of marijuana possession offences (118) cases was recorded in 2011.
And the second most common offence is cultivation of marijuana with the highest number of cases recorded in 2013 and 2014 at 11 cases.
And the S.L.R.C Minister and Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi is putting his weight behind the Commission’s intentions.
“I encourage you all to read these papers when published, make submissions and attend public consultations to assist the Commission develop its Final report and recommendations,” urged Prime Minister Tuilaepa.