Newsbrief: Nigerian Reefer Madness Breaks Out as Officials Blame Marijuana for Social Strife 12/19/03

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Marijuana is the cause of renewed outbreaks of violence in Nigeria's oil-rich Delta State, a leading drug cop told the Nigerian newspaper the Vanguard last week. In a December 8 interview with the Vanguard, the Delta State commander of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Aju Okopi-amen said, "the singular rise in drug addiction could be responsible for the resurgent ethnic hostilities and youth restiveness in the Niger Delta region."

And the drug in question is none other than marijuana, he added. "Cannabis alias Indian hemp is by far the most problematic indigenous drug issue the Delta State Command has had to contend with," he said. "It produces human suffering of immense proportion. It has wrecked homes, killed many of our invaluable youths through mental illness, and caused youth restiveness that is not easily curable."

Wow, that must be some pot they're growing! And growing it they are, according to Okopi-amen, who said the state ranked among Nigeria's top three marijuana producers. His men had seized almost 18 tons of Delta weed in the past six months, he said, as well as "3.3kg of psychotropic substances, 882 pinches of heroin and 283 pinches of cocaine." And the marijuana growing thwarts the country's development, he added. "The people dissipate their energy on the cultivation of this terrible plant that could have been redirected to growing economic crops through which the nation's dependence on oil, as foreign exchange would be changed."

[Editor's Note: Nigerian marijuana is an "economic crop" in the truest sense. It is grown for domestic consumption and exported, mainly to Western Europe, and is increasingly substituted for licit crops precisely because it is more profitable, according to the International Narcotics Control Board's latest annual report.]

It would be extremely convenient for the Nigerian government if marijuana were at the root of its social problems in the Delta. But teenage Ijaw tribesmen, who have launched an armed rebellion in the region against ethnic rivals, Nigerian security forces, and international oil companies since March, have not mentioned marijuana as either a grievance or a precipitant of violence. Instead, they accuse the oil companies and the Nigerian government of pumping oil riches from their land and giving them nothing in return but polluted landscapes.

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Issue #316, 12/19/03 Editorial: Why Prohibition Scares Me | Victory! Federal Appeals Court Rules Feds Can't Persecute Medical Marijuana Patients | Supreme Court Okays Arrest of All Occupants in Cars Where Unclaimed Drugs Are Found | Flex Your Rights in News -- New and Improved BUSTED Video Offer Available from DRCNet Too | Afghanistan: Drug War Yields to Terror War as Rumsfeld Glad-Hands Drug Dealing Warlords | Newsbrief: Georgia Deputy Kills Innocent Man in Highway Drug Stop | Newsbrief: Campaign Watch -- Kucinich Says Legalize It | Newsbrief: Morocco Cannabis Production Booming, UN Drug Office Reports | Newsbrief: Canadian Supreme Court to Rule Next Week on Key Marijuana Cases | Newsbrief: With National Parks Threatened, Colombia Fumigation Petition Drive Underway | Newsbrief: Nigerian Reefer Madness Breaks Out as Officials Blame Marijuana for Social Strife | Newsbrief: UN Drug Office Predicts Humanitarian Crisis as Myanmar Opium Ban Goes Into Effect | Announcement: New Hemp Nutrition Bar Supports Advocacy | DRCNet Temporarily Suspending Our Web-Based Write-to-Congress Service Due to Funding Shortfalls -- Your Help Can Bring It Back -- Keep Contacting Congress in the Meantime | Perry Fund Accepting Applications for 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 School Years, Providing Scholarships for Students Losing Aid Because of Drug Convictions | The Reformer's Calendar
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