Friday, 1700Hrs. John*, a second year student at a public university in Nairobi, has just come out of a three hour afternoon lecture. He is mentally exhausted. The fact that it was a Friday afternoon made the whole lecture painfully unbearable. Thank goodness the weekend is here; time to relax and let go of the week’s stressful events. He makes his way to the hostel to pick a couple of joints from his dealer. After that, he proceeds to light up his stash in the comfort of his room. With loud music emanating from his Ampex speakers, he can momentarily resign to his own world, peaceful bliss…
Elsewhere, in another university, it is party time for first year students. The conspicuous smell of burning weed hangs in the air. The occupants have become accustomed to it, in fact lighting a joint every once in a while is as normal as visiting the urinal for the occasional pee.
Female students have not been left behind either; the shy ones make use of their male classmates to supply them with the much needed stash. Others are bold enough and make purchases on their own without the fear of being judged.
NACADA estimates nearly 6 out of every 10 young people have experimented with bhang at some point. The high percentage of bhang/cannabis use can be attributed to the fact that the drug is easily available. Gone are the days when one would go through painstaking measures to obtain it.
A blunt goes for as little as Kshs.15 depending on the quality of the product. The suppliers are ‘kind’ enough to factor in the needs of users who are uncomfortable with the notion of inhaling smoke. Weed leaves are grounded and are used to bake cookies and cakes.
These however cost more as they are twice as potent when compared with the smoked leaves. The cookies range between Kshs. 30 to Kshs. 50 while the cake is prepared on an order basis. Price is dependent on the size of the pre-ordered cake. In fact, many unsuspecting students partake of the drug unknowingly in the guise of birthday cakes during parties. It is easy to get very high on ‘cookies’ and ‘cakes’ since detection is hard for most people, so be careful what you eat at parties.
Student peddlers are making a fortune selling bhang to fellow students. They operate within campus premises with absolutely nothing to fear. Their business is on a known-clientele basis. You have to be referred by a regular customer in order to avoid rousing any suspicions. Terms of the trade are ‘Cash on Delivery’ and there are no bargains involved.
The manner in which operations are run by the dealers and their customer right under the nose of the local authorities is either ingenious or the administration is turning a blind eye.
NACADA officials would have a hard time trying to convince students about the repercussions of weed abuse. Most of the prevalent weed users argue that the ‘herb’ does not in any way alter their mental or physical well being. They claim that the quoted negative effects are just but mere propaganda.
Others abuse it merely for fun with a vast majority being victims of peer pressure and the urge to fit in. Parents would be shocked to find out that their precious sons and daughters are avid bhang smokers, more so because they associate bhang usage with rowdy, unkempt and uneducated persons.
It is indeed a matter of great concern that these institutions of higher learning which are supposed to nurture future leaders are churning out drug addicts in thousands. The top brains in the country are being steamed and converted into vegetables, all the name of abusing a ‘cool’ drug. One sadly wonders who shall salvage the youth of this country.