LIBERIA: DRUG OFFENSE BECOMES UNBAILABLE

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The House of Representatives has unanimously voted and concurred with the Liberia senate and passed the drugs law, thus making drugs non bailable.

It has has now been sent to the President’s deck to be enacted into law.

The bill was passed following a motion from Sinoe County District #2 Representative Sampson Weah, following a heated debate by the lawmakers, over its urgency, consequences, and need for further understanding of the House Conference Committee’s report regard the law, which many lawmakers said they weren’t acquainted with.

Upon being placed on the House floor, the bill was voted by 25 Representatives with argument that it’s urgent,
while 1 voted against and 2 lawmakers abstained from the process.

This comes following a report from the House Conference Committee on the Drugs Law of Liberia, that was previously passed by the House, and the Senate, but sent back to the House for amendments.

The decision was made during the 13th Day sitting of the 2nd quarter of the 6th session of 54th National Legislature of the House of Representatives of the Republic of Liberia, mid Tuesday, June 27, 2023.

According to part ||, count 11 of the current drug law, it provides that “Any person who, without lawful authority-(a) imports, manufactures, produces, processes, plants or grows the drugs popu- larly known as cocaine, LSD, heroine or any other similar drugs shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to be sentenced to imprisonment for life; or (b) Exports, transports or otherwise traffics in the drugs popularly known as co- Caine, LSD, heroine or any other similar drugs shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to be sentenced to imprisonment for life”.

It further states that “any person who sells, buys, exposes or offers for sale or otherwise deals in or with the drugs popularly known as cocaine, LSD, heroine or any other similar drugs shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to be sentenced to imprisonment for life; or Cd) knowingly possesses or uses the drugs popularly known as cocaine, LSD, heroine or any other similar drugs by smoking, inhaling or injecting the said drugs shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not less than fifteen years but not exceeding 25 years”.

As a result of mounting pressure from concerned Liberians and INGOs about stronger laws on drug, the Plenary of the Liberian Senate Thursday, November 10, 2022, passed into law the ‘Controlled Drug and Substances Act of 2014’’.

Taking the decision, the Senate categorized drug crime into two categories, hence making it non-bailable and bailable depending on the gravity of the crime.

In the wisdom of the Senate, those who are involved in the importation, distribution, massive production, and custody of illicit drugs shall not be granted the right to bail when caught in the act, while the end users of the drug shall have the right to a bail when apprehended in the act.

Recently, Bomi County Senator Edwin Melvin Snowe, emphasized the need for drugs to be declared as national emergency in Liberia, considering its rapid proliferation, and dreadful effect on the lives of young Liberians.

Senator Snowe while elaborating in dismay during a radio interview early Tuesday, June 6, 2023, expressed disappointment in the situation, and alluded that the matter is of essence, and there’s absolutely no room for delay.

“I believe that by now, we should have a national emergency, we should declare drugs as national emergency, it’s bad”, he articulated. According to the Senator, drug abuse, and teenage pregnancy, should be declared as national emergency in Liberia, considering its terrible effects on the lives of thousands of Liberians, especially the younger folks.

“We are losing a whole generation, most of our young people are on drugs and they are saying piece of it (kush) is being sold for 100 Liberian dollars”. The Bomi County Senator believes the issue of drugs (kush, etc) in Liberia is very serious and if it is not appropriately tackled, the nation might regret the aftermath.

Meanwhile, the International Day against Drug Abuse and illicit Trafficking or World Drug Day, is marked on 26 June every year to strengthen action and cooperation in achieving a world free of drug abuse, and was accordingly observed yesterday by Liberia like several other countries.

Drug proliferation is a complex issue that has plagued societies around the world for decades, which Liberia is no exception of.

The problem has been exacerbated by the rise of organized crime, which has made it easier for drugs to be produced, trafficked, and sold. Governments, law enforcement agencies, and non-governmental organizations have been working hard to combat drug proliferation through various initiatives.

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