Residents in the Essequibo island of Leguan have raised concerns over the increased rate of marijuana and alcohol use among youths in their community.
When Guyana Times visited the island, residents were outspoken about the shortfalls in the rice industry and lack of other forms of employment which have led the younger generation to engage in “ill” activities.
One housewife, Nawatie (only name given) stated that the island was dependent on rice and observed that there were no other industries, such as timber processing, where young people can get jobs at sawmills. Several rice farmers had related that the dry weather conditions had become so dire that only 38-40 acres out of the usual 4000 acres were planted. One farmer, Chitranjan (only name given), posited that there was no capital to re-invest in the next crop, and also stated that he could not afford to pay employees, many of whom were young men.
Sheik Fazal, leader of the Amsterdam Mosque, told this publication of his concern over increased drug use. He related that the Quran was “against any form of intoxication”, but observed that he was not against the medical use of marijuana.
A resident who gave her name as Ms DaSilva said that something needed to be done to curb the rising incidence of drug use among the youths. She stated that the abuse of marijuana was one of the most significant social issues currently plaguing the island community.
Some residents have called for the establishment of sport club facilities which they opined would allow youths to have recreational activities so that they would have less time to engage in drug use.
Leguan is located at the mouth of the Essequibo River and has a population of about 3000 people.