Drug abuse in Guyana on the rise, it is not only America’s problem as many Guyanese like to think
Marijuana continues to be the most common drug used by Guyanese. Crack cocaine is becoming more popular, however, and is quite affordable at as little as fifty cents per dose. Reports indicate that drug potency is rising, leading to a rise in psychosis among addicts. Marijuana is sold and consumed openly in Guyana, despite frequent arrests for possessing small amounts of cannabis. Anecdotal evidence, sources within the GOG and a local NGO note that consumption of all psychotropic substances in Guyana is increasing, with a particularly notable rise in the incidence of crossover addiction, i.e., addicts of one illicit substance becoming hooked on at least one other. In addition, the potency of locally grown marijuana has reportedly increased, which has fueled local consumption. Media reports have indicated the possible widespread use of sniffing agents such as gasoline and glue among students.
Guyana’s ability to deal with drug abusers is hampered by the modest financial resources to support rehabilitation programs. Guyana only has two residential facilities that treat substance abuse: the Salvation Army and the Phoenix Recovery Center which are both partially funded by the government. Since 2007, the Ministry of Health has run several modest demand reduction programs in the media, schools and prisons, as well as outpatient talk-therapy treatment. There is little by way of Non- Governmental Organization (NGO) support in demand reduction.
U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs U.S. policy focuses on cooperating with Guyana’s law enforcement agencies, promoting good governance, and facilitating demand reduction programs. The USG continued to encourage Guyanese participation in bilateral and multilateral counternarcotics initiatives. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is funding projects to improve governance in Guyana, which includes parliamentary and judicial reform.
Bilateral Cooperation. In 2009, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Trinidad office continued to collaborate with Guyana’s law enforcement agencies in counternarcotics-related activities, and reported a generally favorable and improving working relationship. The U.S. Coast Guard provided seven resident and on-the-job training courses to the Guyana Defense Force Coast Guard in maritime law enforcement, leadership and management, and engineering and maintenance procedures.
The Road Ahead. The U.S. encourages the GOG to effectively follow up on recent legislation supporting counternarcotics efforts. The U.S. also encourages the GOG to implement the new plea bargaining and wiretapping laws. We look forward to collaborating with Guyanese law enforcement to test the amended extradition law and emphasize the need for vigorous exploitation of the new money laundering legislation.