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Permanent Anti-Drug Body Needed

The nation’s tabloids have very often come up with stories about drugs and drug seizures in virtually all parts of the country.

But lately, the phenomenon of growing drugs, especially cannabis or what is popularly referred to as “banga” is taking disturbing proportions, almost as if it has become legal to grow or distribute same. Last month CT reported seizures of huge quantities of cannabis and the destruction of cannabis farms in parts of the South Region.

Earlier, similar actions were reported in the West Region, notably in the Bamboutos Division which, by all accounts, has become the veritable epicenter of drug activity in the Region with very regular arrests of farmers and traders in the illicit business. Come to think of it! Most of the cannabis farms identified and destroyed by the law-enforcement agencies are very often as big as industrial farming units with some being as large as five hectares.

One hectare may seem to be a huge concern, but in many of these areas of the West and the South, a hectare is just an ordinary farm; reason for the widespread practice of this activity which has often gone along unnoticed by the authorities until it became necessary  to intensify traffic controls in the wake of the Boko Haram insurgency in the Far-North of the country and the degenerating security situation in the east of the country consequential to the strife situation in the neighbouring CAR.

It is in the cause of carrying out one such control on the Bertoua-Ngaoundere road a few days ago that a road safety and security control team came across 200 kilogrammes of cannabis loaded in a transport vehicle heading for Ngaoundere and possibly beyond.

Reaction from peace-loving citizens has been understandably stunning. Many are surprised by the very hint that a cannabis farm of the dimensions mentioned above could be thriving just kilometers from their abode! The way the security services have often presented cases of arrest or discovery and later destruction of farms and the reports in the press leave the impression of displaying a rare valuable trophy being presented to the public.

Inasmuch as these may be exploits, from a security point of view, the prevailing situation betrays the near absence of a proactive government strategy in fighting drug abuse in the country. It is true legislation exists, especially in the Penal Code. But as long as the only fighting strategy rests in the application of the pertinent dispositions of the said code, drug abuse will be difficult to be definitively wiped out or, at least, minimized to a bare acceptable minimum.

It is difficult to wipe out drug abuse from the comfort of courtrooms. The immensity of the scourge, as proven by the way and manner it has gripped the functioning of daily life, especially in the countryside, is such that only a very firm control and repressive body can fight it with the efficiency the situation requires.  Ambient poverty has come to compound the situation because of the capacity of the illegal activity to generate the fast money that normal legal activity such as ordinary farming will never do.

So any fighting strategy must take into account field presence. And such field presence can only be assured by an independent and operational body whose sole responsibility is to fight the scourge. Several countries, from which ours can usefully copy, have done so by creating Drug Enforcement Agencies and they have generally obtained palpable results.

One must salute the efforts of the few non-State agents helping in the fight to eradicate the consumption of illicit drugs; but their actions are too limited to leave a remarkable impact. Only government can do the job effectively. And that can only be done through new and innovative policies that squarely address the disturbing rise in the growing and consumption of illicit drugs.

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