LBy: Laymah Kollie
Liberia-June 27,2023: It seems duty bearers have heard loud the cry of mothers whose kids lives are ruined in street corners of Monrovia and other parts of the country to the menace of drugs.
A recent drug called KUSH has claimed more lives of young men and women while others are yearning for help.
On Tuesday, June 27, 2023, both Houses, following heated debates on a conference committee report unanimously voted to pass the amended version of the New Drug Law thus making it a non-bailable and bailable based on the offenses.
According to new Law, importers, exporters, manufacturers, traffickers , cultivation and sales of drugs and substances are considered first degree felony and is non-bailable under while consumers and drug users are placed in second degree felony upon being caught. This means offenders could get life imprisonment for the crime.
The Law further stated that when a person is being caught in the act and charged with first degree felony, every proceeds from the sales of properties upon arrest by the Drug Enforcement Agency shall be divided in the following categories: 25% for drug enforcement agencies, 25% for drug prevention and rehabilitation programs in the country and 50% shall be deposited into the national budget for general revenue of the Country.
Additionally, the law added that drug users and consumers placed in second degree felony which is bailable upon been caught, bail in this category requires twice the value of the controlled drugs or substance and can only be given by cash or Manager’s check or bank certificate in the amount of the cash.
The conference committee took into consideration that the right to bail is a fundamental constitutional right and should be denied only where the offense is a capital offense or is determined by law to be a grave offense.
According to the committee, placing consumers or drug users in a second degree felony is because they (consumers) are deemed to be victims of importers, traffickers, sellers, manufacturer and exporters.
However, the law also provides that where the convict of any of these crimes is not a Liberian, after serving his/her sentence, he/she shall be deported from Liberia.
The Bill which has been signed by both Houses is current before Pres. George Weah for signing into Law.
The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act of 2014 is now designated as the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act of 2023.
The issue of drug and harmful substances continue to raise alarm as majority of the country’s youthful population continuously falling prey to drug addiction. Recently, drug was declared a national emergency by President George Weah.
According to a 2022 statistics from the National Steering Committee on the Rehabilitation of At-Risk Youths in the country, there are an estimated 150,000 drug users and over 10,000 ghettos across the fifteen Counties of Liberia. Since the launch of the At-Risks Youth Program, it is unclear how many young people have been rescued and rehabilitated from the streets.
However, Anti-Drugs Activists has welcomed the passage of the New Drug Law, describing it as a step forward to rescuing thousands of young people falling prey to substance abuses.
Further, some activists indicated that the activation of rehabilitation programs remains a huge challenge for the fight against drugs. They hoped that the implementation of the law will be robust to save the future generations of Liberia.