by Jake Quinn
A Kiwi living in Fiji examines the Fiji Police drug unit’s multi-pronged effort to reduce drug related harm in their communities, beginning with a brief history of drug use in the island nation
Setting the scene
Drug use is not new to the beautiful Fijian Islands. Alcohol, kava and marijuana are part of daily life for many Fijians. Illicit drugs are much less common, although Fiji Police believe their use is on the rise. Because of Fiji’s location as a major port in the heart of the Pacific, the country faces both illicit drug trafficking and increasing use, especially amongst the young.
Traditionally, ethnic Fijians – known as iTaukei – and indo-Fijians (who make up around 37% of Fiji’s 827,900 people), as well as the myriad of other ethnicities that form Fiji’s colourful, at times strained, multiculturalism, have used various forms of phycho-active drugs during their rituals and ceremonies. Indentured labourers and riley seafarers bought marijuana and hemp traditions from India and elsewhere to Fiji when they arrived to work the sugar plantations and to trade.