College Students Arrested for Marijuana Possession

One of Saint Lucia’s Nobel Laureates Sir Arthur Lewis’ most quoted saying is this: “The fundamental cure for poverty is not money but knowledge.”             Lewis, who won the Nobel Prize for Economics had also been a champion of the facilitating economic growth and well-being through creativity and the arts also acknowledging that “creating and sharing knowledge” could help open doors out of poverty. The Sir Arthur Lewis Community College, the island’s lone indigenous tertiary education institution has been named after Lewis who was never known to be an advocate for the use or drugs or gambling. However lately sources tell the STAR that there is a growing problem amongst a few “bad eggs” at the school bent on ruining the school’s good image.
“There is now a particular area at the school where some students meet frequently to smoke marijuana and gamble,” says our source adding that the police have had to be called in a few times and have made arrests. On more than one occasion, the activity according to our source has involved the children of prominent Saint Lucia citizens in all spheres of the economic life of the society. Last week one such incident reared its ugly head.
For days now it has been making the rounds in
Saint Lucia, the fact
that the son of a former Government Minister was among others arrested by police here for marijuana possession last week. The incident took place on the compound of the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College, Morne Fortune, in an area known by school officials where the illicit practice of ganja smoking takes place.   Following the incident, the police have remained silent on the matter, even though several citizens have been voicing their opinion as to whether preferential treatment would be meted out to the young man.
On Thursday the STAR raised the question with Police Commissioner Vernon Francois during a press conference which the crime chief promised would be an open quarterly activity. Asked whether such perceived preferential treatment could affect the police efforts at public and community confidence and why there has been no official statement from the police this is what Francois said; “the fact of the matter is that the case you are referring to involved a school child. We have been particularly sensitive with regards to releasing the names of school children in cases of that nature. So I do not know that it is because the fact is because of prominence of the family. Because I mean people have made approaches to me concerning that case as it relates to it, that it is a school child and it was just one spliff and whatever. And I have been very firm and my police officers have been firm. We have been very firm on that case that we have. We are not seeing whether that person is prominent or not prominent but in terms of releasing the names of that particular case we have decided to go on the side of the fact that it is a school child that is involved.”
Francois went on to say that there have been similar cases where students of Sir Arthur Lewis Community have been arrested and their names withheld. “So I do not know why we should start  because there is any semblance of prominence there,” Francois ended by saying.
On Friday we spoke with newly appointed Principal of the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College, Urban Dolor about the school’s policy where illegal activity on school premises is concerned.
“Our regulations are quite clear—that any activity which is illegal, be it the use of drugs or otherwise will not be tolerated,” Dolor told us. “We do understand that there are a few students who will do things incorrectly; it may be a question of tempering justice with mercy. However, where we find students with drugs the police will be informed and the police will decide to charge or not to charge. But we (the school) will take necessary actions on each matter,” he went on.             According to the school principal in cases where students may be habitual users the school may attempt to detect early and offers some sort of counseling and guidance.
In recent years there has been a noticeable increase in the use of marijuana and alcohol by school students here with some arrests being made of students in possession of ganja and peddling the illegal substance.
The Drug abuse and Control Secretariat here in 2012 disclosed that the average lifetime prevalence of alcohol use amongst students in Saint Lucia was at 85 percent, past year prevalence 73 percent and the percentage of students who would have had a drink within 30 days was at 62 percent. In the case of marijuana, 26.5 percent of students had smoked in their lifetime, 16.5 percent in the past year and 9.46 percent in the last month. The survey which was done by CICAD was a comparative analysis of student drug use in Caribbean countries. Saint Lucia ranked number one for alcohol use by students and second when it came to the use of marijuana. Another study is expected to be conducted later this year.

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