By Ndey Sowe
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency – The Gambia (DLEAG) have reacted to calls by youths for the use of cannabis to be legalized in The Gambia.
The spokesperson of the institution, Ousman Saidybah told journalists recently that The Gambia does not have proper infrastructure in place to legalize marijuana as it will cause more damage to young people in society.
He said cannabis is proven to be highly addictive due to the content of tetrahydrocannabinol which makes several smokers glued to it. According to him, many users of major drugs normally start with cannabis.
“I believe there is a lot of misconception in regards to these issues and people tend not to understand the difference between allowing open abuse and decriminalizing drugs.”
He said no country in the world has decriminalized or permitted the trafficking of drugs.
“We need to assess our own reality of the situation that exists in our country. You conduct feasibility study in your own country to assess what the local reality is. And in regards to the information that you get from your local reality, I think that should inform your own policies,” he said.
He said despite cannabis is prohibited in the country; they still faced constraints in controlling it.
“People are also talking about cultivation, now when you talk about cultivation, you have to think about marketing of this product, and you also need to think about the prevention of diversion,” he said.
He said some countries use cannabis product and transform it into other by-products, but the youth in The Gambia is smoking and inhaling cannabis.
Apart from arresting suspected users, Saidybah said Gambia is doing a lot in regards to drugs demand reduction which deals with prevention, treatment and care, harm reduction, alternative development and livelihood.
“I believe it is one thing to have good laws, but it is something totally different to have the infrastructure that supports the realization of these laws.”
He said cannabis users engaged in a ‘very risky live style and behavior, most of whom could be tempted to exceed any legal limits in their activities.
“We are not the enemies, except if we are saying that drugs are not threat to us,” he reacted to how they are generally perceived by people.
He calls for a concerted effort from all and sundry to fight and end the usage of drugs in the country.
His statements came after the DLEAG seized 204 kilograms of cannabis sativa from 13 suspects including Gambians and Senegalese nationals who were paraded before the media. The suspects are currently helping the police and drug officials in their investigations.