Governor: American Samoa is suffering from a drug crisis

Governor Lolo Moliga says drugs have affected our children, churches and even the government.

But the territory doesn’t have any plans to respond to the problem.

Speaking at yesterday’s cabinet meeting the governor said one of the most pressing problems now affecting the territory is drugs. But when they searched, there’s no territorial plan to address this scourge.

Therefore a government commission has been established, the American Samoa Drug Control Commission, to draw up a plan of action to deal with drugs.

In an August 2 memo establishing the commission, the governor said that American Samoa is suffering from a drug crisis.

“Our families are being ravaged by drug use and abuse. Specifically drugs are destroying the futures of many of our young people.

“We must take immediate action to battle this epidemic and while we may have government and private programs operating, we need to combine resources and tackle the problem in its entirety. Therefore it’s necessary that I establish the American Samoa Drug Control Commission.

The ASDCC is tasked with:

  • reducing and eliminating the supply of illicit drugs,
  • reducing drug related crimes, violence and health impacts,
  • strengthening prevention, enforcement and treatment systems,
  • collecting relevant data to better allocate limited resources and
  • mobilizing communities to be more proactive in preventing drug use and abuse.

Governor Lolo told directors yesterday that he expects directors of departments named to the commission to attend meetings instead of sending a representative.

He said it’s not good that he and the lt. governor are present and the directors send their stand ins.

Departments and agencies appointed to the committee are: Office of the Governor, Samoan Affairs, Agriculture, Education, Health, Human Resources, Youth and Women Affairs, Port Administration, Public Safety, Treasury, Human and Social Services, Homeland Security and Legal Affairs.

The governor said that the commission shall also include religious organizations, community coalitions, village councils and organizations and other non government organizations.

Last month, the leader of the Catholic Church, Bishop Peter Brown wrote to Governor Lolo lending support of the Diocese of Samoa Pago Pago to the governor’s efforts to stamp out drugs.

Bishop Brown also called on other churches for their support.

DHSS, Health and Office of Samoan Affairs are the lead agencies on the commission.

A subcommittee has drawn up a plan and will make a final presentation to the governor on Tuesday.

Lolo said that implementation of the plan will involve the government and the whole community .

In his memo estbalishing the Commission, the governor said, “Drugs are poisoning our way of life and we muct act now to root it out.”