An address delivered by Dr. Martins .J. Oni, Director General, Police Assistance Committee

What is marijuana? It could be described as a dried flower in form of seeds and leaves derivable from Indian hemp plant. Consumers give the substance many names such as Astra turf, ganja, dope, grass, hemp, texas tea, weeds to mention but a few Marijuana leaves are usually green or brown or gray in colour.

Its consumption pattern varies. Some chew its leave, some smokes it, some mix its leaves for stew or soup, while other soaks it in water and drink. There are many ways to use it, but what is real is that its usage is dangerous to human health.

Although science has proved that marijuana may help reduce symptoms of certain medical conditions, it certainly has much harmful effect depending on how often it is used. There is clear evidence that regular use of marijuana increases the risk of heart, lung and mental health problems. Less is known about the health issues that might be caused by causal or frequent marijuana use. Marijuana is a natural product that doesn’t have to be tested in a laboratory.
Science has proved that typical marijuana plants contain more than 400chemicals, including about 60 that can interact with the body’s nervous system. Smokers of the substance might inhale more than 2000chemicals. Many of those chemicals are similar to the one in cigarette smoke. Marijuana can also be contaminated with mold, insecticides or other chemicals and health effects of many of these chemicals are not known. Smoking marijuana is therefore injurious to health in many ways.

Constant effect of marijuana includes rapid heartbeat, anxiety, lack of physical co-ordination often followed by depression and sleeplessness, while some users suffer panic attack. Scientific studies had also proved that the active ingredients in cannabis THC (Tetra Hydro Cannabbiro) remains in the body longer than expected. Marijuana smokers could suffer up to between 50%-70% more of cancer substances than tobacco smokers. One major research studies reported that a single cannabis dose could cause as much damage to lungs as up to 5regular cigarettes. It has also been proved scientifically that long time cannabis smokers. Often suffer from bronchitis and inflammation of the respirating track. The drug can easily affect physical health and cause brain abnormalities.

This is also backed up by earlier research on the long term effect of its uses, which indicates changes in the brain similar to those caused by long term abuse of other major drugs. A number of studies have also shown a connection between continued usage and problems which change the structure of sperm cells, deforming them. Even, a smaller amount of marijuana can cause temporal sterility in men, and can also upset woman menstrual circle.

In a nutshell, the effects of using marijuana could include: a happy, relaxed, or “high” feeling; slower reactions; dizziness trouble thinking, learning and remembering; confusing; anxiety; panic or paranoia; fast heart rate, increased blood pressure, less interest in normal activities; hunger; dry mouth; red eyes; psychosis-which is seeing or hearing things that are not real.

These effects typically last two or three hours after marijuana is smoked or inhaled. When the substance is eaten, the effects take longer to start and may last four to ten hours in the system.

Long-term marijuana use can, in some cases lead to addiction, which means a person can’t control or stop marijuana use even though it interferes with daily life.

According to institutional findings on drug abuse, about 9 percent of people who start using marijuana between ages 13 and 25 will become addicted. And half of the people who use marijuana daily become addicted.
Marijuana users make up 17 percent of the people that enter publicity funded rehabilitation programs.
Coming down to Nigeria, addiction suffered through marijuana consumption by Nigerian Youths had led to serious social implication on the mental and physical development of our young adults. Drug abuse amongst our youth including smoking of marijuana had brought untold hardship on our social system. This development had led to escalation of social vices amongst our youths such as school drop outs, cultism, prostitution, armed robbery, kidnapping, mental derailment, political thuggery e t c, which had culminated in the complete misuse of our youths, and by implication affecting social and economic stability of Nigerian youths. A typical case on our hands now is the Boko haram menace, which has been drawing its membership from a pool of uneducated and unemployed Nigerian youths or school drop outs or products of drug abuse from Nigerian system. There is a saying that idle hands is the devil workshop meaning that Nigerian Youths who become idle through drug abuse and social derailment are available hands for evil perpetration.

From the foregoing, it is therefore imperative that all hands must be on deck to confront the menace of drug abuse and its effect on our social system. There are government agencies and institutions which can be mobilized into partnership to jointly address the situation.
In Nigeria, institutions like the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA and NAFDAC along with other government law enforcement agencies are being wooed to align with our organization to embark on aggressive enlightenment programme to correct the abnormality.

There are government regulatory bodies such as the police, customs, immigration, border security officials along the seaport land and airport to monitor illegal movement of such harmful drugs in and out of our country. Time has come for all hands to be on deck to fight the battle of marijuana stoppage through our various agencies here in Nigeria and globally.

Our organization the PAC are now seriously organizing series of seminars and orientation courses to educate the public on the damage marijuana could do to the health of our people and we are also helping the police and other security agencies through our members who could give useful information to police informant departments. Hence the PAC is working in collaboration with various agencies in combating the crime of marijuana smoking which is injurious to health.
Thanks and God bless.

President/Director General
Police Assistance Committee/Association of Tradesmen and Artisans/Exco Members (PAC/ATA)