Regional News

Meth use at crisis levels in American Samoa

PAGO PAGO (RNZ Pacific/Pacnews) — Methamphetamine or ice use in American Samoa is at crisis levels, a lawmaker says.

Fofo District Faipule or Rep. Andra Samoa said like many villages on the main island, Tutuila, her village of Leone is infested with ice, as the drug is known locally.

It has become so prevalent even elementary school children are using it, Samoa said.

Dealers and users are widely known yet their operations continue with some being children of local matai, she said.

The lawmaker, a member of the U.S. territory’s House of Representatives or Fono, said American Samoa lacked the infrastructure and expertise to deal with a problem driving a range of social and criminal issues.

“We have a lot of the prisoners that are in prison because of the drug problem,” she said.

“And you have the effect of the drug, ripple-effect into assault, vandalism, beating-up, bullying. The effect of the ice you cannot control.”

The issue is not a primary focus for lawmakers, according to Samoa, who said she would like to see a proper assessment of the scale of the problem.

“And also realization that we need to have intervention and prevention programs,” she said.

“A lot of the youth are running away and solving their problems through the use of illegal drugs,” Samoa said.