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Thirty-four million Africans smoke dagga

Republic of Botswana - Gaberones,Botswana, 11th March 2006

The main illicit drug of abuse in Africa is cannabis also known as marijuana, which is abused by more than 34 million people in the region.

According to International Narcotics Control Board (ICBN) 2005 report released by the United Nations, the cannabis plant is illicitly cultivated throughout Africa, and cannabis is smuggled within the region and beyond, mainly into Europe and North America.

While cannabis herb is illicitly produced in all sub-regions of Africa, Morocco continues to be the worlds largest suppliers of cannabis resin, the report says.

It is therefore encouraging to note that, as a result of intervention by the government, both the total area under illicit cannabis plant cultivation and the total potential production of cannabis resin in Morocco decreased by 10 per cent in 2004 over the previous year.

The report says drug traffickers increasingly use West African countries along the Gulf of Guinea for smuggling cocaine from Latin America, as evidenced by the record seizures that have been effected in that sub-region during the past two years.

Moreover, two recent seizures of cocaine in Kenya, totalling over one ton, may indicate that cocaine traffickers have also begun using eastern Africa as a transit area.

It notes that while cocaine continues to be abused mainly in the cities and tourist centres in southern and western Africa, there is concern that the increased trans-shipment of illicit drugs through the area of the Gulf of Guinea might have a spill-over effect, resulting in increased drug abuse on countries in those sub-regions.

Although the abuse of opiates has remained limited in Africa, the increasing abuse of such drugs, including injection, is becoming a cause for concern, particularly in African countries along the Indian Ocean.

In southern Africa, one recent worrying development is the rapidly emerging abuse of MDMA (ecstasy) and methamphetamine in South Africa, particularly in the Western Cape area.

While the subject is smuggled from China, some of it also illicitly manufactured in laboratories in South Africa as evidenced by the increasing number of illicit methamphetamine laboratories dismantled in the country. BOPA

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