Marijuana is much in the news in the South Pacific Fiji Islands these days, with police and doctors warning of its dangers for users while persistent pot-growers in the Navosa Highlands face threats of increased police action, according to the Fiji Times. The paper published three marijuana-related articles in two days last weekend.
When last we checked in on the island paradise, Navosa marijuana farmers were resisting police raids in their remote, impoverished region by sabotaging police vehicles and covering roads with nails (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/346/fiji.shtml). Now, according to the Times, the battle continues, with police warning of no leniency for growers after the recent discovery of four pot plantations in the area. Police reported nine arrests and more than 8,000 plants uprooted.
Acting Acting Assistant Superintendent Kolinio Vunaki inadvertently revealed the futility of the prohibitionist exercise as he vowed eternal vigilance. "Police operations in drugs will never end," he told the Times, "but it will be a consistent event to help build a drug-free society for our country."
Those who grow marijuana harm the country's younger generation, Vunaki said, a point the Fiji Times emphasized with a pair of articles on Fiji's youth drug menace. In one, the paper quoted Dr. Shish Narayan of St. Giles Hospital as saying 80% of patients re-admitted to the drug treatment unit have "marijuana-related problems." But in his next remark, Narayan noted that for most of those people, the only "problem" was the fact that they continued to smoke it after undergoing drug treatment. "The patient will either have been taking his medication and smoking marijuana or they do not want to take their medication and prefer to smoke the drug," he said. The solution, he said, was better treatment programs.
And a day earlier, the Times trumpeted a story saying the Ministry of Education was studying "strategic plans" to combat the drug problem in the schools. Counseling was not working, said Education Minister Ro Teimumu Kepa. The apparent root cause of this crisis in Fijian drug education was the arrest of one 16-year-old student for selling pot to his fellows last week.