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NACADA: Use of bhang among Kenyans increased by 90pc

The National Authority for the Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA) has raised alarm over the rise in the use of bhang in the country.

Speaking Saturday during a night raid on Bhang dens in Mtwapa, Kilifi County, NACADA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr. Anthony Omerikwa regretted that consumption of the narcotic has risen by 90 per cent in the last five years, becoming a major concern.

Two suspects who were arrested with 438 brooms of bhang in Kwa Goa village, Mtwapa Township in Kilifi County. Photo by Haniel Mengistu

“Consumption of bhang in the last five years has gone up by 90 per cent, and based on 2022 research, nearly a million Kenyans are using cannabis sativa; that is, one in every 53 people are using this drug in the country,” said Dr. Omerikwa.

Two people were arrested during the raid led by NACADA at a private residence in Mtwapa, which authorities believe is used as a bhang depot.

The two were arrested in the Kwa Gowa area; one was a customer, and the second was among the caretakers of the residence.

“We have apprehended two suspects with 435 rolls and assorted brooms of Cannabis sativa. One we suspect is the distributor, and the other is the consumer. We have also apprehended his mode of conveying, which is a motorbike,” confirmed Dr. Omerikwa.

Police attached to NACADA, acting on a tip-off from the public, raided the three-bedroom house where the huge consignment was hidden and undergoing packaging ready for distribution within the coastal region.

This is the second raid after a similar one was conducted last month, where several shisha dens which were operating illegally were shut down and their owners charged in court.

“We have been able to get information that indeed these drugs are transported from Migori. We have leads on who transports it, and we are soon going to get them. We have begun the investigations, and we will soon nab the suppliers,” stated the NACADA CEO.

The agency has intensified its crackdown on all forms of drugs in the coastal region with the target of bringing to book the big drug barons. The consumption of heroin and other drugs has taken a toll on coastal youth for decades.

NACADA officers displaying 438 brooms of Bhang discovered during a raid in Kwa Goa village in Mtwapa Township, Kilifi County. Photo by Haniel Mengistu

“The government’s stand on drugs is that the use of illegal drugs is not allowed; we will pursue these individuals to ensure this menace is addressed,” said Omerikwa, adding that parents and politicians should work together to eradicate the scourge.

Omerikwa further said NACADA will not relent in its war on drugs and substance abuse.

Data from a NACADA survey reveals that 518,807 Kenyans aged 15–65 are currently using cannabis, translating to a national prevalence rate of 1.9 per cent.

The report dubbed ‘Status of Drugs and Substance Use (DSU) in Kenya, 2022’ says that of this figure, 475,770 are male while 43,037 are female.

It showed that a total of 193,430 youth aged 15–24 years (one in every 37) were currently using cannabis, translating to a 2.7 per cent prevalence.

The figure for those aged 25–35 stands at 174,142 (one in every 48), translating to a 2.1 per cent prevalence rate.

The data shows that overall, 234,855 Kenyans aged 15–65 years, or one in every 111, are addicted to cannabis and exhibit severe substance use disorders.

The number of bhang addicts in the 15–24 age bracket stands at 90,531 (one in every 77); the number of 25–35-year-olds is 100,468 (one in every 83), giving an overall addiction rate of 47.4 per cent.

By Sadik Hassan

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