From the Presidency – news about drugs: even VGT is considering raising the issue

“The President does not rule out the possibility of considering this issue in the State Defense Council as well – if we see that the state is not able to take the situation into its own hands,” said K. Budrys at the press conference held at the Presidency on Monday.

“Currently, we can state that the state does not control this problem and it has simply slipped away,” he said.

This is what the advisor of the country’s leader said after the president’s meeting with the Minister of the Interior Agne Bilotaita, the Minister of Education, Science and Sports Gintautas Jakštas and the General Police Commissioner Renats Požėlas. According to K. Budris, the meeting established that the problem of drug distribution and use among minors is acute – the trends are negative.

“Drug use among minors programs society’s problems into the future – it means an increase in addictions, it means a loss of social ties and all that is related to it. As a result, having missed the opportunity to react right now, we will program much bigger problems in the future”, said the adviser of the country’s leader.

Therefore, the Presidency calls on the responsible ministry and institutions to take stricter measures in order to prevent the distribution and use of psychotropic substances – preventive actions and campaigns are no longer enough, noted K. Budrys.

“The fact that we have had various prevention programs and plans for several decades, the list of involved institutions can also be counted in dozens, but the results all point in the other direction. This means that either we are not doing what should be done, or we are simulating doing it,” explained the advisor.

“This is not just a national problem. We can say that it crosses the threshold of a national security problem. (…) When we solve national security problems, we use not only felt-tip pens, teddy bears, drawing contests or other actions, but also hard measures,” he emphasized.

He proposes to tighten responsibility

K. Budrys indicated that the president proposes to tighten responsibility for the owners of bars, cafes, night clubs, where repeated cases of drug use are recorded.

“Those hard measures (…) relate to the imposition of liability on the owners or administrators of the environments where consumption takes place.

We know that among young people, 30 percent of those who consume, consume in nightclubs, bars, cafes and similar environments.

The president says that the owners of such premises must also be held accountable,” he said.

“There was also talk about tightening the circulation of electronic cigarettes and possibly considering a trade restriction,” said K. Budrys.

Daukanta Square also favorably evaluates the proposals of the Labor Party to provide that Lithuanian schools could have the practice of checking schoolchildren to see if they are in possession of narcotic substances.

“Those measures must be considered, how it could be applied without the consent of the parents and the community, the consent of the school,” he said.

He does not think that the problem of drug use is understood in the same way in Lithuania

Speaking at the press conference after the meeting, K. Budrys also pointed out that the situation regarding the distribution and use of drugs is complicated by the ambiguous attitude of society towards this problem.

“I have in mind the various feedback from public opinion makers about the scale of the problem, where it is questioned, about the promotion of such a soft approach, about completely unfounded criticism also of the preventive actions carried out by the police,” he explained.

“I would not agree with the statement that we all have the same understanding of the drug problem in Lithuania,” said K. Budrys.

Therefore, G. Nausėda’s adviser pointed out that the president is also critical of proposals to decriminalize small amounts of narcotic substances – according to the Presidency, the way it is communicated does not contribute to solving the problem.

“That various talk from year to year that we should mitigate and certain measures shows what results were reached today”, explained K. Budrys.

“The president appreciates that the way we communicate about decriminalization and our approach to drugs in general is contributing to the problem we have today because we’re misrepresenting the scale of the problem and the ways to solve it,” he concluded.

Požela: the reform of the police would allow the establishment of special units dedicated to the fight against drug distribution

Commissioner General of Police Renat Požela hopes that the structural transformation of the police will allow the establishment of special departments dedicated to the fight against drug distribution.

The head of the police spoke about this on Monday, after a meeting with President Gitan Nausėda, heads of other institutions.

“Why do we want a new territorial structure based on the principle of constituencies?” Having perhaps more forces in one specific area would allow us to establish additional specialized units, including the fight against the spread of drugs. (…) This would allow us to act more efficiently and concentrate not only on the consequences, but also on the causes”, R. Požėla told journalists.

He said that he shared these thoughts in a meeting with the head of the country and representatives of other institutions, with whom measures to combat drug trafficking were discussed.

R. Požela claimed that statistics show that the number of investigations into drug distribution is increasing this year.

“Apparently, after this year, we will be able to state that we have a new “pie” of registered crime, when about 10 percent of crimes will be related to the illegal circulation of narcotic substances,” said the Commissioner General of Police.

Armonaitė: there will be a lot of advertising, the result is zero

The Minister of Economy and Innovation, Aušrinė Armonaitė, is critical of the Presidency’s deliberations in the State Defense Council (VGT) to discuss the problems of drug use and distribution by minors. According to the politician, this would not give any result. According to her, it is necessary to look for other means related to youth education.

“(…) I read the President’s adviser saying that this problem will need to be solved in the Council of State Defense. I don’t know if this is the advisor’s idea or the President’s, there will be a lot of advertising, the result will be 0”, A. Armonaitė wrote on her Facebook account on Monday, reacting to the deliberations of Kęstutis Budris, advisor to the country’s leader.

“Drugs in schools and their increasing use among students is a huge problem. And it will only intensify, because everyone who tries to solve it does not see and does not want to see the essence. Drones, dogs, batons, inspections – it was a fiasco in global practice. Children are left to die by other children precisely because everyone is afraid. They are afraid of the police, they are afraid of the “punisher”, they are afraid of the stick”, she assessed the situation.

A. Armonaitė believes that the state should take other measures. However, according to her, this is not an easy path – the politician suggests improving children’s non-formal education and allocating additional funding for it.

“First of all, create the best possible conditions for children to attend clubs. We already have a system – a child can receive €15 for non-formal education circles, €20 in Vilnius (with the contribution of the municipality), but the amount has not changed since 2015. Let’s expand on this idea and empower schools to use bullying and suicide prevention programs. If it’s important, funds can be found, it’s not billions. Children must have alternatives, rather than wandering around not knowing where and with whom,” wrote A. Armonaitė.

The minister also believes that specialists from various fields should be involved in the prevention of drugs in the criminal policy.

“As long as the Freedom Party talks about it, nothing will happen. Judges, prosecutors, NGOs, health professionals, where are you? We have not succeeded in changing part of the criminal provisions with administrative ones and will not succeed as long as one voice is isolated, it will be caricatured, and there will be no systematic approach. Now we will use the army? Maybe we should finally catch dealers instead of children?” she asked, summing up by noting that the Freedom Party will soon present official proposals to solve the problem of drug distribution and drug use among minors.

Aynura Imranova

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