Marshall Islands National Police burned a large stock of betel nut Tuesday confiscated from stores around Majuro following a series of raids of local businesses initiated three weeks ago.
Law enforcement authorities said the contraband was collected from businesses stretching from Laura to the end of the island in Rita.
The national law adopted by Nitijela years ago on betel nut prohibits the sale of betel nut. But the same law does not prevent individuals from importing betel nut for personal consumption, a gray area that poses a challenge to authorities.
“The burning of the stash is a fair warning to businesses and individuals selling betel nut and we want to be transparent in what we do,” Police Deputy Commissioner Robson Almen told the Journal.
When asked what prompted the sudden need to bust businesses especially when the law has been on the books since 2012, Almen said he became aware of the law recently and after learning police have the authority to stop retail sale of betel nut, he acted upon it.
To date, Majuro Atoll Local Government police have not received new orders to halt sales of betel nut in stores but they continue to cite people for littering and spitting betel nut residue on the ground.The same goes for Kumit, they haven’t pursued betel nut cases recently.
Read more about this in the April 5, 2019 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.