By Tola Gbadamosi, Adekola Afolabi
& Babatunde Ayedoju
Nigeria is facing serious threats over the rise in the cultivation of cannabis and the increasing tempo of youths involvement in the production and intake of drugs infused beverages in the country, investigation has revealed.
Findings revealed that many young people appeared to have access to drugs and are now specialising in counterfeiting beverages laced with drugs, which have become very rampant.
The ugly development, The Hope gathered, is fast turning the country into a hub of inter- trade in cannabis and beverages laced with drugs.
The Ondo State Commander of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Mr Mumuni Raji in an interview on the development affirmed that the agency has received petitions from farmers that barons have taken over many farmlands in the state.
Sequel to this, he disclosed that the agency’s Chairman, Brig.Gen. Buba Maruwa, (Rtd) had directed that they should go after the barons which he said has led to the arrest of 10.
Raji said areas marked for what he called “Operation Go After Barons” are: Ogbese, Owo, Ofosu and Power Line.
He said this year alone, NDLEA destroyed cannabis sativa (India hemp) worth N174million, 37 hectares of farms, arrested 148 people, convicted 45 with 344 pending cases in various courts in the last three months all in Ondo State alone.
Raji said other none conventional drugs the youth abuse are Skuchies; a mixture of tramadol, cannabis sativa, codine, methamphetamine among others.
He said youths now use them as birthday gifts, and also serve them as wine, adding that most commonly used is Monkey Tail; mixture of gin and cannabis sativa.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Mr Adekola Olawoye attributed, “the root cause of the delinquent behaviour as joblessness, saying biblically, an idle hand is the devil’s workshop. We have army of unemployed youths. We have millions of youths who are jobless and roaming about the streets with no identifiable means of livelihood. And these youths want to keep body and soul together. How will they do that?
“The situation is further compounded by the system of government we are running in Nigeria. The jobless youths/graduates do not see hope in the horizon because government is not ready to cater for them, and that is why you now see them indulge in crimes, drugs and criminality.
“Drug is the cheapest means, after politics, of making money, and the youth do not have money to contest elective posts. The demagogues that we keep recycling themselves during election year have taken over the political space and they are not ready to give our vibrant youth a chance.
“If the government does not make hay while the Sun is shining now, mental sickness, psychiatric patients will dominate this country. Psychiatric patients will be so many that they will be a big threat to the life of everybody. Mind you, the law says somebody that is mentally deranged cannot commit any offence, even if he kills, the law says he doesn’t know the consequences of what he does. So, he cannot be convicted of any crime, that is it.
“This is a serious threat that government must urgently address. Look at the rate of insecurity, ritual killings, kidnappings for ransom, Yahoo Yahoo plus everywhere and all manner of crimes and criminalities. Those doing them are into drugs.”
On his part, Chief Korede Duyile said: “Our value system has changed for the worse and there are so many unemployed youths in the country. Also, depression can force some of them to take to drugs. Majority of our jobless youths believe there is so much money in drugs so they venture into it since they have nothing to do.
“So, I believe the law enforcement agents, particularly the NDLEA should act fast and step up their activities to address the ugly trend for the sake of the future.
“Yes, the story is that Ondo State has a very fertile land for the planting of cannabis.
Dr Mrs. Kemi Adebola, a sociologist from the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), noted that cannabis cultivation and consumption have been going on for long with perpetrators devising creative means of hiding their crime, adding that youths are always at receiving end.
Adebola who noted that a lot of youths take cannabis due to peer pressure, added that it could lead to depression, terminal ailments and social misdemeanor.
She stated that due to the nature of the substance, youths who take it may resort to stealing when they do not have enough money to buy it.
Dr Chris Ofonyelu from the Department of Economics, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, blamed law enforcement agencies for not doing well enough to check the activities of producers and consumers of cannabis.
Ofonyelu noted that increase in the consumption of cannabis by youths who are mostly idle would only increase the burden on Nigeria’s healthcare sector which is already overwhelmed.
Vital health organs like lungs, liver, and others are being affected while the victims are only after the external effect.
“The risk of developing marijuana use disorder is stronger in people who start using marijuana during youth or adolescence and who use marijuana more frequently.
Association between marijuana and schizophrenia is stronger in people who start using marijuana at an earlier age and use marijuana more frequently. Driving while impaired by any substance, including marijuana, is dangerous and illegal.
Marijuana negatively affects several skills required for safe driving, such as reaction time, coordination, and concentration.
Potential for addiction is approximately three in 10 people who use marijuana have marijuana use disorder.
Some signs and symptoms of marijuana use disorder include trying but failing to quit using marijuana or giving up important activities with friends and family in favor of using marijuana.