Social media is among a set of new forms of technology and innovations being used by criminals as tools to alter the nature of the illicit drug trade.
Minister of Home Affairs, Edmund Hinkson, made this revelation recently as he addressed the closing ceremony of the first Caribbean Youth Forum on Drug Use Prevention at the Hilton Barbados Resort, recently.
“We observed that new levels, patterns and innovations are being utilized to encourage and broaden substance use, not just in Barbados or the Caribbean, but across the Americas. There has been a rapid change in the abuse of substances – legal and illegal,” he said.
One such emerging trend, the minister pointed out, was the fact that criminals were now using new technologies and networks such as the Darknet (an encrypted virtual network) to alter the nature of the illicit drug trade.
And, he cautioned the youth present that they too must be mindful of how they utilized the various social media platforms during community outreach, and in their personal space.
Mr. Hinkson said the Report on Drug Use in the Americas 2019 listed the top eight abuse substances as alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, inhalants, cocaine substances, amphetamine-type stimulants, non-medical use of pharmaceuticals and emerging drugs.
Noting that the findings were based on research done in the majority of OAS member states, the minister said it also showed a decrease in tobacco use, while increases in the use of cannabis and cocaine were noted.
He added that if left without an impactful, coordinated response, the situation will result in increased costs to a country’s health, criminal justice, and educational and social systems, and result in a loss of productivity in various economic sectors, especially among the youth.
Mr. Hinkson described the illegal drug trade as a menace to public welfare, which represented a serious threat to the rule of law in many Caribbean nations, as it brought a new class of violence.
He told the youth, that the region’s future must include wrestling the reality and undesirability of having widespread substance abuse in their midst.
The forum was sponsored by the Organization of American States, its Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission and the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs of the United States.