4 Jul 2003

Australia supports marijuana testing facility in Samoa

10:30 am on 4 July 2003

Police in Samoa have secured an agreement from the government and aid money from Australia to set up facilities for carrying out tests on marijuana which they believe has reached epidemic proportions in the country.

The Assistant Commissoner of Police, Tuitogatupu Poe Ualese, says the testing facility will be set up at the Universtiy of South Pacific campus in Alafua.

The cost of sending marijuana samples to New Zealand for testing costs the Ministry of Police, Prisons and Fires Services over 41 point 6 thousand US dollars annually.

The Chief Justice Patu Tiava' asu'e Falefatu says marijuana related offences have reached epidemic proportions and police are appealing for community help in seeking out offenders.

Offenders numbers have increased despite sending them to jail for possession and cultivation of marijuana as a deterrent.

Applications for legal aid for defendants charged with marijuana related offences were stopped last year to prevent the possible bankruptcy of the Ministry of Justice.

Marijuana is a lucrative underground export to American Samoa.