TWO DAYS AGO police burned more than $5 million worth of marijuana and $8 million in cocaine in the incinerator at the Grantley Adams International Airport. That was more than 2 500 pounds of ganja and 350 pounds of cocaine.
If Barbadians have even a cursory knowledge of what happens in the illegal drugs trade they would quite easily appreciate that it is hardly likely that what is confiscated by police is anything more than a fraction of what actually reaches the island. In fact, law enforcement veterans report it is not unusual for one dealer to “rat” on another to divert the attention of police from his own shipment.
By extrapolation, therefore, if the authorities intercepted $13 million worth of drugs then considerably more must have made it into the island. We are not suggesting that all of this was consumed in Barbados, because the island is known to be a transshipment point for narcotics heading to North America and Europe – although in recent years there has been significant trade in the opposite direction as well.
However, there is enough evidence, anecdotal and otherwise, to indicate that far more is being consumed here than we should be comfortable with. And when we consider the concern expressed by police public relations officer Acting Assistant Superintendent David Welch about one of the most recent marketing methods for marijuana, the national worry should be even greater.
Mr Welch has noted that the force is concerned that dealers are targeting young people with marijuana-laced chocolate brownies and cookies, which present the additional problem of the appearance that users are consuming a legal product, thus arousing no suspicion when done in full glare of the public.
And while the veteran lawman did identify the apparent target market as “young people”, we know that legitimate chocolate brownies are generally aimed at children. We should therefore be bothered that street smart drug dealers might be attempting to guarantee themselves a market into the future by getting their users addicted from early.
But the concern of responsible adults in our communities should not end there, because information is also now suggesting that there is a growing use of a new home-brewed cocktail which some of our young people are using to get a high. They are doing so with items found in any household.
We refer to the mixing of Sprite, cough syrup that contains codeine and candy as a sweetener. This concoction is referred to as sizzurp, purple drank, syrup or lean. According to one online report, emergency room doctors in the United States have described it as a “dangerous drug” that can lead to seizures, which in turn can cause the user to stop breathing.
Our point is simple. We all know that illegal drugs are used in Barbados and that the primary consumers are our young people. We know too, that the trade is very lucrative and this provides enormous incentives for the unscrupulous among us to go out of their way to target anyone with the potential to be a customer – and our young people again are their target.
But the environment is not static. Dealers are going out of their way to disguise their products and the use of chocolate brownies and cookies by them provides ample evidence of this, while our young people are combining legitimate everyday items in a manner that allows them to get a high without attracting the attention of the authorities. Our level of vigilance therefore has to be stepped up if we do not want to lose more of our young people to the scourge of drugs.