……..Says Nigeria has 11m users
By Ifeanyi Nwoko
The United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has raised alarm over the increase in the potency of cannabis worldwide, even as more youths underrated its harmful effects.
The UN body said in a new report it released on Thursday that in the past 24 years, cannabis, in some countries, had become four-times more potent, while the percentage of youths who perceived it as harmful was on the decline.
“In the past 24 years, cannabis potency had increased by as much as four times in parts of the world, even as the percentage of adolescents who perceived the drug as harmful fell by as much as 40 per cent.
“This is despite evidence that cannabis use is associated with a variety of health and other harms, especially among regular long-term users.
“This is a worrisome trend, considering that there are 11 million cannabis users in Nigeria, a third of whom seemed to be regular users with a need for drug counselling.
“Lower perception of drug use risks has been linked to higher rates of drug use, and the findings of UNODC’s 2021 World Drug Report highlight the need to close the gap between perception and reality.
“It also highlights the need to educate young people and safeguard public health,” UNODC’s Executive Director Ghada Waly said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme for the 2021 International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is “Share facts on drugs. Save lives”.
Speaking further, Waly said that the theme emphasised the importance of strengthening the evidence base and raising public awareness.
That way, he added, the international community, governments, civil society, families and youth can make informed decisions, better targeted efforts to prevent and treat drug use, and tackle world drug challenges.
“In furtherance of this theme, in Nigeria, UNODC is in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Health, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency and with the support of the European Union, to enhance access to quality drug counselling and treatment,” he said.
He pointed out that the collaboration had also brought about the development of the National Guidelines for the Treatment of Substance Use Disorders and the Standard Policy and Practice Guidelines for NDLEA counsellors. (NAN)