- Wed, 02/20/2013 - 23:16
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The high rate of India hemp commonly called Ganja in Liberia, Igbo in Nigeria, wee in Ghana, Maryjean in Siera-Leone, usage among youth in West Africa calls for urgent intervention, the impact of India hemp smoking has been violence, thuggery, assault, insanity and murder. Smoking hemp transforms the consumer into brutal beasts, with the ability to commits crime without feeling remorse or guilt. Indian hemp smoking has been linked to psychological disorder in several countries. In Ghana for instance, smoking of India hemp is the major causes of metal disorder among the youth, some of them are found in psychiatric hospitals, some on the street and prayer camps. Bearing in mind the current state of psychiatric hospitals in West African states, and the number of users growing on daily basis, what then becomes the future of the region as it projects its youth as the best resource it has and hopes to build its human capital to transform the region’s economy.
In Ghana, smoking of India hemp among youth is high; it is the cheapest and widely abused drug. At Agbogbloshie, a suburb of Accra, numerous youth from the northern part of Ghana smoke India hemp. In Dormaa Traditional Area of Ghana, there is high rate of India hemp smoking among the youth including school children. 21.5% of Ghanaians, aged from 15 to age 64 smokes India Hemp (World Drug Report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, 2007). In Nigeria, Lagos state for instance, at the Jakande Low Cost Housing Estate youth smoke India hemp uncontrolled. At Jakande Estate in Ajah it is the same. At a refuse dump at Agege community, Itire-Ojuelegba road in Surulere at Oando and MRS petrol stations smoking of hemp is found in abundance. In Cameroon, there is great usage of Indian hemp; it is cultivated in most communities. Some of the plantations are found in the West Region of the country at Mbagam community. In a similar vein, many youth in Siera Leone smoke Indian hemp.
Smoking of India hemp is not likely to come to an end soon, it is the cheapest drug among the youth. In Nigeria for instance, one wrap is sold for N50 (0.31755 USD) with a regional average of 35 cent. In Ghana, Siera Leone, Benin, Niger just to mention four, street boys who cannot drugs, find it very easy to buy India hemp as substitute for drugs. At Tudu, another suburb at Accra, India hemp “taaba, ntampi or ganja,” is sold at wholes and retail in different villages outside Tudu. It is grown mostly in Nigeria and Cameroon, India hemp farms are cited in areas not accessible. Those who trade in Indian hemp make huge profit from it and see it as a lucrative business.
In 2010, Nigerian National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, (NDLEA) confiscated 1174, 661.59kg of India hemp and destroyed 631.17 hectares of India hemp farm. In 2011, it rose to 191,847.91kg and 918 hectares of India hemp farm damaged. In Ghana, Indian hemp meant to be transported to Burkina-Faso was confiscated by Ghana police at the Brong Ahafo Regional police Command, in another development, Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) destroyed six bags of Indian hemp at the Lawra border area of Ghana.
The music and film industry at the moment is a thriving business in West Africa with the stars having lots of the youth as role models. However, the stars allegedly smoke Indian hemp their followers are likely to copy that from them.
Cross section of users of Indian hemp to in Dutse Alhaji a satellite town of Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria by the researcher on their reason for smoking hemp adduced that it cures body pains, malaria, boost confidence and makes them think proper on the best approach to tackle life challenges. They also linked youth unemployment as a major cause of smoking hemp, to them; they use it to suppress frustration and emotional trauma they go through for not having a paid job. Some women spoken to say Indian hemp is very useful for menstrual ache, according to them, “immediately they take the hemp, either cooked in rice, soup and needles their menstrual pains ceases”. Opinions from students spoken to by the researcher indicates that India hemp gives them energy to read for longer period of time, gives them courage and confidence to approach exam, some are of the opinion that mathematics students needs India Hemp the most so they can calculate better and write exams without stress.
With the increased cases of insanity recorded as a result of Indian hemp use, West Africa has adopted ways of treating mental illness, in Ghana for instance they are taking to praying ground and herbal practitioners, in Nigeria it is the same, and the Nigeria National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) is to build a church at Ondo state to facilitate the rehabilitation people affected by smoking Indian hemp. In Siera-Leone, City of Rest is dedicated to handling mental cases; the Pastor Morie Ngobeh has helped men and women with addiction and other disorders since 1985. The centre has 25 to 40 beds for patients suffering from related drugs and alcohol cases. Conventional means of treating insane people is also adopted in Nigeria; there is Yaba Psychiatrist Hospital that handles much metal illness arising from smoking of India hemp and other drug addiction. In Siera-Leone, Nahim's clinic in Freetown, handles psychiatrist cases. However, despite this conventional approach, insufficient mental hospital, inefficient manpower, high cost of drugs for treating patients such as methadone and lack of funding are core challenges to handling mental illness in the region.
Despite the presence of Food Drug Law (FDL) and National Drug Policy in Ghana, National Food and Administration Control (NAFDAC) and Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), National Drugs Act of 2008 in Siera Leone, which imposes severe punishment on drug-related crimes and also gives compulsory imprisonment of not less than five years for custody and use of drugs, the use of Indian hemp continue to wax stronger. Worried on the high spate of India hemp smoking among youth, Nigerian Lagos State House of Assembly is reviewing law prohibiting smoking it at the recreation centers.
Governments in West African have made available irregular data of Indian hemp seizures which are not a true representation of the cultivation and usage of it. Psychiatrists trained to treat mental illness which the use of the hemp might result to are few in West Africa, government and NGO are yet to address this shortcomings. West Africa has economic, social and institutional challenge and this worsens the Indian hemp situation. The most efficient approach to combat this trend would therefore be to strengthen legal frame work on the use of Indian hemp across West Africa, promote youth employment, strengthen democracy and the rule of law and improve on drug abuse awareness campaign.
There is also urgent need to revitalize agriculture in West Africa, the collapse of agriculture in the region, has led to “Indianhemstification of farming ” with the cultivation of Indian hemp as a lucrative business farmers are likely to embrace the cultivation of hemp as best alternative for their income. If care is not taking, farmers in West Africa are likely to abandon food crops for Indian hemp cultivation; this is most likely in villages where subsistence farmers will not resist any crop that will bring big income to them. In the South-South Nigeria, some peasant farmers said they make most of their cash incomes from Indian hemp cultivation, a bag of the leave is sold between N40, 000 to N45, 000. (254.46 USD and 286.26 USD).To them, banana and pineapple cultivated is for formality. If this situation persists in future and spread over West Africa, it will worsen economic problems of the region, increase food imports and food insecurity.