Does our island’s drug policy breed criminals?

Today’s Gazette outlines an article entitled “Don’t put me on the stop list” about a 22 year old Bermudian youth who was found with .4 grams of marijuana on his person.

Possession of marijuana is against the law, however the potential punishment of posession heavily outweighs the risks of use. 

Lets assume this individual had been given a criminal record and put on the “stop list”.  This means he would effectively be barred from travelling to the US and potentially other countries.  Should he care to further his education, his options for doing so would be limited.  Should he care to take a job he would also be limited to one that does not include trips off island.

Certainly, Magistrate Tokunbo is free to ask the question of “Why didn’t you think about that before?” However,  do people still smoke cigarettes despite knowing that they are more likely to get cancer?  Do people still eat too much sugar despite knowing that it can give them diabetes.  To use such a justification for such harsh sentences is not a solution to our island’s drug problems.  In all reality, it won’t discourage people from doing what they’re going to do anyway simply because they won’t have to deal with the consiquences until much later.

If our citizens are put on the stop list, can it effectively end their ability to further themselves as productive members of society?  Having already broken the mould and ruined their lives, what stops them from asking themselves why they should not delve further into criminal activity? 

If you’re an individual already on the stop list, what further have you got to lose?  Are our prisons not already compared to being a club med for drug addicts as some people claim given how freely it is rumored to be able to attain drugs there.  With such harsh punishments for an act that does more to hurt the individual then it does society, are we encouraging those who briefly step off the beaten path into a life of crime?

Maybe there is a reason why we’re in the top 10 list for imprisonment and perhaps it’s time we started cracking down on the causes of our problems rather then the effects?   Such as by asking the question of why these individuals are turning to drugs in the first place?

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