Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs, Adriel Brathwaite. (FP)

The formulation of a National Anti-Drug Plan is essential for Barbados’ fight against illegal drugs and ongoing efforts to rescue the country from the scourge.

And, Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs, Adriel Brathwaite, has challenged the National Council on Substance Abuse (NCSA) to have the country’s draft national anti-drug plan completed by the next quarter.

He made these comments as he addressed the official opening ceremony of a two-day consultation for the Barbados National Anti-Drug Plan at the Amaryllis Hotel today.

"I feel very passionate about us having our anti-drug plan, not only because it would guide us for the next couple [of] years, but also because there was a time when Barbados was the leader in many things in the region, and this was one of them," he said.

Mr. Brathwaite noted that while various agencies participating in drug intervention could be identified, he had no doubt that there was duplication in some areas, and that the country was unable to measure quantitatively the benefits to be derived from ongoing efforts. "That is what the plan will enable us to do," he explained.

A national anti-drug plan for Barbados is expected to have a written strategy which outlines anti-drug projects and activities which are to be undertaken by relevant departments.

Mr. Brathwaite told participants that as a politician, father and member of the community, he would say the problem with the use and abuse of drugs was real. "There was a time when we used to think about it as boys on the block, but now it is the girls on the block," he said. He added that there was also a new practice of smoking marijuana openly at football games across the country, which was illegal.

He added that in the past peer pressure played a significant role in children becoming involved in the use of illegal drugs, but now the country was faced with a situation where family members were encouraging younger members to adopt the habit. "We used to speak of at risk youth, but now we have to speak of at risk families," he said, adding that he looked forward to having the plan in place.

However, the Attorney General also pointed out that the plan would also assist Barbados with tapping into financial and other resources as it should clearly outline how they would be used. "This is one area where, as a country, we don’t have all the financial and other resources that would enable us to effectively, reduce what is happening among our young people. Just to go to our strategic partners without any clear strategy, I think, that is a ???no, no’," Mr. Brathwaite pointed out.

The Attorney General added that once completed, the plan would be taken to Cabinet for approval, before a determination was made as to which agency would champion it.


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