• Why Indian hemp sells like groundnut in universities in Edo, Delta and Bayelsa
From Tony Osauzo, Benin
We started this series, about five weeks ago, which focuses on the ‘carnage’ caused by Indian hemp smoking, in our various institutions of higher learning. This week, we bring it to an end with the hope that the authorities concerned, the university authorities and government, having been sensitized on what is going on in their domain, would team up and do something about it before it becomes too late.
An official of the Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) who does not want his name in print because he is not authorised to talk to the press told The Sun Education that the stuff sells like groundnut at Niger Delta University (NDA).
Aside cannabis which is believed to be readily available and accessible, scunk and codeine are drugs that are found among the student population. “Peer group influence is the greatest influencing factor,” he said. “Another factor is ignorance as many of them use drugs without knowing its harmful effect. The other factor is curiosity. There are some students who have become drug users due to curiosity. They just wanted to see how it feels and they became hooked. These drugs are readily available.”
The reason cannabis and other drugs are being sold like groundnut in the university, he revealed, is because NDU does not operate a strict hostel policy making most of the students to stay off campus where they have the liberty to do whatever they like.
Our correspondent reports from Asaba that that is the same situation at Delta State University (DELSU), where many of the students reside in private hostels within the Ibori Golf Club area. Many of the students get enlisted into the usage of weed purportedly for self-enhancement.
Apart from the usual smoking of the weed directly, our correspondent gathered that some of the students use it to cook while there is also a category which ferments it in local dry gin (ogogoro) which they popularly refer to as ‘monkey tail’ or ‘mokites.’
According to another source from the university’s main campus in Abraka, Ethiope East Local Council, usage of the stuff is very prevalent among students of faculties of art, law and social sciences. Its use by students in Abraka campus is said to be very prevalent because of the town’s proximity to Abbi in Ndokwa West council area, where Indian hemp is being cultivated in large quantities.
Mr. Samuel Campbell, Principal Staff Officer, Drug Demand Reduction Department of the state command of NDLEA explained that there are two ways of tackling the menace amongst students of various institutions of learning in the state.
“One is drug supply reduction which involves gathering of intelligence on people that deal on drugs; carrying out surveillance; and raiding suspected hideouts and arresting of suspects,” he said. “We then investigate and anyone of them that is found wanting will face prosecution.
“The second aspect is the drug demand reduction. By this I mean those who consume it, like students and other youths. What we do is that we carry out public campaigns like going to schools to give lectures on drug abuse. We have projectors, public address system and generator that we carry about.
A psychologist, Mr. Nelson Edosomwan, listed some effects of drug abuse as hysteria and distortion of sight and sense of judgment. Dr. Omoyibo Ufuoma Kingsley, associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Benin, warns that it can affect their academic and social lives.
Disagreeing with the view that says the students take it to cope with economic hardship, he noted that most of the students still depend on their parents for their upkeep and for virtually everything.
Dr. Oladoyin Ayilara, Consultant, Psychiatrist Drug, Addiction, Treatment, Education and Research Unit (DATER), Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Uselu, Benin City, gave a detailed analysis of the effects of Indian hemp smoking and ingestion of other dangerous drugs
“These substances have the ability to affect somebody’s mind, the way he thinks and behaves,” he explained. “When it is used, the immediate reaction could be the reddening of the eyes, that is conjunctival ingestion and then euphoria, the elevation of mood, and the increase in appetite. Those are the immediate effect that users experience.”
He further posits that when a student takes cannabis over time, a chemical substance called diethylamide is released into the blood stream. “Diethylamide is what make you feel good and in the part of the brain, there is what we call pleasure centre,” he remarked. “When diethylamide is released, it makes you feel good. Over time, that part is hijacked by cannabis so much that nothing else will give you pleasure other than cannabis. That is putting it simply. So over time, that is why they do not want to do anything. They go to school, eight years down the line they are still in 300 level trying to sort out 200 level courses.”
-With reports from Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa, Paul Osuyi, Asaba and Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin.