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Caribbean Drugs

Caribbean Drugs

Axel Klein | Marcus Day | Anthony Harriott


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The Caribbean poses a significant drugs problem for the UK and the US, as the recent phenomenon of yardie gangs in British cities graphically illustrates. But in the islands themselves ganja, crack cocaine and the policies to control them have become, as this book demonstrates, a veritable social disaster. The authors, who are among the leading local researchers and engaged professionals in the region as well as the former regional head of the UN Drugs Control Programme, bring together new research investigations, insightful policy analysis and practical experience of on-the-ground interventions putting demand reduction into practice.

The dimensions of the illicit drugs market in the Caribbean are made clear. The origins of the problem lie in part, it is argued, with the impact of neoliberal economic policies that have opened up the region's borders and gravely undermined its traditional sources of employment and exports, like bananas and sugar. The islands, in part under external US pressure, have adopted a region-wide policy of criminalization This has involved the creation of specialized drug courts and serious human and social consequences as a result of criminalizing traditional cultural practices around ganja consumption.

Fascinating light is thrown on the difficulties facing drug abuse and rehabilitation centres and the dilemmas they throw up. Harm reduction as a fundamentally alternative approach to the drugs problem is also explored. This is the first book to examine the experiences of Caribbean countries since they adopted a coordinated approach to the drugs problem. There are valuable lessons to be learned at both policy and practical levels for other countries, and in particular those like the UK and US with large Caribbean populations. 

Dr Axel Klein is Head of the International Unit at DrugScope, and a fellow at St. Anthony's College, Oxford. He has carried out research projects in the Horn of Africa, Nigeria and the Caribbean on conflict, society and culture, and the politics of drug control. He is the coeditor of Fragile Peace: State Failure, Violence and Development (Zed 2002). Marcus Day is coordinator of the Caribbean Harm Reduction Coalition, Saint Lucia. In addition to managing a number of regional development programmes including the EC Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation project in seven Caribbean countries, he is the author of numerous reports and studies, including (with coauthors), A Drug Demand Reduction Needs Assessment in the Caribbean Community and Market (2002) Dr Anthony Harriott is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Government, University of the West Indies, Mona Campus. He is the author of Police and Crime Control in Jamaica (2000) and editor of Understanding Crime in the Jamaica: New Challenges for Public Policy.
'This very welcome book provides a unique insight into smaller countries' attempts to shape their policy and response to drugs in the context of national, regional and international imperatives.' Gerry Stimson, Imperial College, London 'About a century ago a few colonial countries plus the USA designed a system of prohibiting drugs that now can be considered a major problem for human rights and state sovereignty. This book's useful analysis of the unintended consequences in the Caribbean transit zone of prohibition as drug 'control' may help bring about a much needed review of the system.' Peter Cohen, University of Amsterdam 'A refreshing look at how the criminalization of ganja has driven a wedge between society and the state in the Caribbean, and how the prosecution of possession fills up the gaols while the differential application of the law allows traffickers to go free. The book is realistic in acknowledging the irresistible pressure from North America and Europe to stop the trafficking through these countries but cogently makes the point that this should not drive domestic policy into more and more punitive responses.' Cindy Fazey, University of Liverpool 'This book fills a major gap, providing substance abuse researchers, clinicians, policy makers, and general readers on both sides of the Atlantic with a collection of interesting and provocative essays. I highly recommend it.' James A. Inciardi, University of Delaware 'Provides a useful introduction and examination of key policy issues raised by illicit drugs and their considerable impact on Caribbean societies...the book would be useful in courses like Drugs and Society or those on Cultures of the Caribbean.' Merrill Singer, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 'It offers a unique quasi-Historical-Comparative (H-C) analysis of illicit drug use, its production, and transshipment across Caribbean countries and beyond...offer readers a thorough review of the contemporary challenges and opportunities enacting an effective Caribbean drug policy entails. The editors show great diligence in outlining social, economic, political, and historical Caribbean realities which few texts currently offer; a practice which surely will keep audiences engaged...The editors of Caribbean Drugs set out to dismantle centuries old stereotypes surrounding illicit drug use in Caribbean region. To this end, they were successful.' Wilson R. Palacios, Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Cover cover
Contents v
Tables and Figures vii
Abbreviations viii
Acknowledgements x
About DrugScope xi
Preface xii
Contributors xiv
PART 1 \rBackground and Context 1
Introduction 3
Note 8
1 The Search for a New Drug Policy Framework: From the Barbados Plan of Action to the Ganja Commission 9
The origins of drug control and the symbolic association of drug use and disorder 17
Revisiting the ganja complex 20
From cocaine powder to crack 23
Distinctions between crack and ganja 27
Regional responses 29
Taking stock – drug control in the Caribbean in 2003 30
What constitutes a drug offence and how should drug offenders be dealt with? 33
Criminalization of petty drug users and long-term security 38
The punitive model: instrument of drug control or manufacture of criminality? 40
Drugs as a development issue 44
Who are the problem drug users and how are they to be reached and treated? 49
Where next in Caribbean drug control? 55
Notes\r 57
References and Select Bibliography 60
PART 2 \rPolicy Responses 65
2 Criminalizing Cultural Practice: The Case of Ganja in Jamaica 67
Method of work 75
The issues 76
Notes 81
References and Select Bibliography 81
3 Drug Courts in Jamaica: Means to an End or End in Itself? 82
History and main features of drug courts in the United States 84
Evaluation of the effectiveness of drug courts 85
Overcoming the limitations 86
Eligibility criteria 87
Coercion 88
Applicability to non-US jurisdiction 90
Judicial resources 91
Supervised treatment and periodic testing 93
Programme evaluation 93
The Jamaican dilemma 94
Conclusion 97
Notes 98
References and Select Bibliography 99
4 Drugs and the Prison System: Impact of Legislative Changes on the Prison Crises in the Commonwealth Caribbean Region 101
Effects on the criminal justice system 102
Legislation 102
Increasing rates of arrests 104
Increasing rates of imprisonment 106
Profile of the prison population 107
A more appropriate approach 111
Conclusion 116
Notes 117
References and Select Bibliography\r 119
5 Rethinking Privatization, the State and Illegal Drugs in the Commonwealth Caribbean 120
The problem 120
Historical perspectives on privatization and regulation in the Caribbean 121
Contemporary perspectives on privatization and regulation 128
An alternative framework 133
Implications of the alternative framework 138
Acknowledgement 141
Notes 141
References and select bibliography 142
PART 3 \rInterventions on the Ground 145
6 Drug Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation in Jamaica and the Caribbean 147
Some say, ‘nothing is what it seems to be’ 148
The birth and development of T & R in Jamaica 148
T & R services: the obstacles 150
Training – what a need! 150
Let’s formalize and standardize, not rationalize 151
Harm reduction 152
The power of external influences 153
The end of a small group 154
7 What’s the Hook? Diary of a Drop-In Centre or Rehabilitation before Abstinence 155
The first challenge: location, location, location 158
The hook! 160
Networking pays off 165
Thursday, 7 June 2001 166
Saturday, 9 June 2001 167
Epilogue 170
8 Cayman Drug Council: Practising Harm Reduction in a Zero-Tolerance Society 172
Genesis of a national drug council 172
Developing a master plan 173
Zero tolerance 174
Reducing harm vs harm reduction 174
Purple ribbon bus 175
Conclusion 177
9 Ethical Dilemmas in Drug Research: Pitfalls of Gathering Sensitive Information in the Caribbean Context 178
Ethics 179
Applied ethics in the Caribbean 180
Ethical dilemmas and challenges 182
Drug policy 184
Conclusion 185
References and select bibliography 186
PART 4 Responses to Opportunity: \rEconomics of Drugs 187
10 Illicit Drug Markets in the Caribbean: Analysis of Information on Drug Flows Through the Region 189
Market size 189
Illicit drugs and the foreign sector 191
Product and national markets 193
Market organization 197
Domestic demand 200
Public regulation 204
Political consequences 216
Economic effects 221
11 The Ganja Industry and Alternative Development in St Vincent and the Grenadines 224
National drug control policies 226
Ganja farming 227
Before and after the harvest 231
The traffickers 233
Duvallee village 234
Social implications of ganja farming 235
Discussion 236
Alternatives 239
Notes 242
References and select bibliography 243
Index 245