Aiona outlines strategy in fight against drugs

Prevention, treatment and disruption of illegal drug use were the significant issues discussed on Tuesday night at a “Talk Story” meeting with Hawaii Lieutenant Governor James R. “Duke” Aiona Jr. at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School.

Aiona Jr. met with members of the Kaua‘i community to discuss the new “Hawai‘i Drug Control Strategy” which will be initiated later this month.

“This problem requires all of our attention and focus,” Aiona Jr. said. “We want to stop illegal drug use, we want to treat it if it’s happening and we want to interdict in the supply and demand of illicit drugs.”

Tuesday’s meeting was one of many that Aiona Jr. has attended across the islands. The purpose for all the meetings is to gather opinions from Hawai‘i communities about illegal drug use and underage drinking and report the information to the Hawai‘i Drug Summit which will be held Sept. 15-17 on O‘ahu.

“Once we gather all the information at the Summit, we can assist the state in finding and sustaining effective community and anti-drug coalitions to combat the use of illegal drugs and underage drinking,” said Aiona Jr.

During Tuesday’s “Talk Story” at Chiefess, the lieutenant governor outlined the framework for the Hawaii Drug Control Strategy.

Major ideas discussed in the strategy were identifying a drug-related problem, creating a strategic direction, planning an effective way to achieve the goals, and the implementation of the strategies.

“We must bring together the best ideas for improving drug prevention and interdiction programs,” Aiona Jr. said. “We have to identify actions to translate knowledge into practice.

“We have to fill gaps in services and capitalize on the strengths of our community.”

The lieutenant governor went on to discuss how prevention, treatment and a disruption of illegal drug use are keys to the framework of attacking the problem.

Aiona Jr. delved into developing and implementing a comprehensive anti-drug campaign, distributing prevention materials such as workbooks and videotapes to targeted schools in “high risk” neighborhoods, supporting the development of charter schools for at-risk students and investigating new strategies to better coordinate resources as keys to prevention.

“We have always said this from the very beginning; we have to be proactive with this problem,” Aiona Jr. said.

The lieutenant governor also discussed how treatment is critical to attacking illegal drug use.

Enhancing treatment options for drug and alcohol users, expanding current residential and outpatient centers for adults and youth, completing a master plan for the development of a secure treatment facility for addiction-sentenced felons, and initiating gender-specific and criminal justice treatments for youth offenders at the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility and Detention Center were ideas that Aiona Jr. discussed with regards to the treatment of illegal drug use.

Finally, the lieutenant governor cited the community, sales practices as well as legislature as ways to disrupt the problem

“We want to enlist the community in the fight against illicit drug use and underage drinking,” Aiona Jr. said. “We also must evaluate local sales practices with regards to precursor chemicals.

“We also must draft and implement clear and definitive legislature that mandates decisive consequences for drug offenders and severe consequences for drug dealers.”

Once the Hawai‘i Drug Control Strategy is fully implemented, Aiona Jr.’s early benchmarks include a reduction of illegal drugs by 10 percent over the next three years by teenagers ages 12-17 and a 10 percent reduction for adult offenders.

Business Editor Barry Graham can be reached at 245-3681 ext. 251 or mailto:bgraham@pulitzer.net

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