ALTHOUGH marijuana has been acclaimed as having medicinal values, the side effects of smoking it, especially for adolescents, has many health side effects and seem to hurt them more than adults.

Most people will agree that a good number of marijuana users suffer from adverse health effects, such as testicular cancer, heart attacks, respiratory diseases, a weakened immune system, pregnancy complications which may even lead to low birth weight in babies.

In addition to physical health effects, marijuana use is also linked to cognitive problems of low academic achievement and other educational outcomes.

Smokers of cannabis may also suffer impaired social functioning and mental health disorders, including depression and anxiety.

Research on marijuana use and its long-term effects on the human brain by health experts, have shown mixed results with some showing that the drug can have negative effects in adolescents.

But experience have also shown that many young Zambians boys who have been to boarding schools are more likely to have used marijuana under peer pressure or duress from older students.

No doubt cannabis which is widely grown in Zambia, has been highly commercialized and is the major drug of abuse in Zambia.  And every year, thousands of people are arrested, prosecuted and sent to prison for abuse or cultivating marijuana.

According to 2014 World Drug Report, Zambia is the world’s third largest marijuana, weed-smoking country by population. That is not a joke by any standards.

So is it any wonder that youths of Lusaka’s Chibolya Township, the well know hub of drug trafficking, are still defiant and have vowed to continue trading in marijuana despite repeated crackdowns by combined security forces?

Not to be outdone, Matero youths have reportedly joined the band wagon and  daily and openly smoking marijuana without any sense of fear of being arrested or caring about health dangers that go with cannabis use.

Yesterday the Sun carried a story about the use of marijuana among youths of Lusaka’s Matero Township which is reported has reached frightening levels and calls for speedy action to stop the vice from completely getting out of hand. Matero is steadily becoming a den of marijuana like Chibolya Township where the Drugs Enforcement commission (DEC) has repeatedly battled drug barons including the famous ‘Seven Spirits’.

Youths in the area have taken to cannabis as a daily activity which was now being perceived as normal way of life.

A check by the Sun found that by 07:30 hours a group of about 10 young boys between the age of 13 and 20 had camped near Buseko market makeshift houses to smoke marijuana.

What was more worrying was that people as young as 13 were involved in smoking marijuana who start their daily activities early morning near makeshift houses at Buseko market and hideouts at Matero main market and George area.

At the rate the commodity was being supplied in the area by unknown drug runners, it was becoming more apparent that it could soon become another safe haven for drug related trafficking.   One of the concerned Matero residents who is also a senior citizen Paul Banda complained over the activities of the young people engaged cannabis smoking.

Mr Banda wondered why the youths in the area had continued to engage in illicit activities instead of concentrating on constructive issues that would benefit their livelihood.

He said the uptake of marijuana among youths was now leading them to start terrorising innocent people in early hours.

“For me I can safely say that what is happening is very sad. These young people have no fear for anybody, they are able to smoke in any place without fear of being arrested as they see this to be normal,” he said. Mr Banda appealed to DEC to step up and intensify patrols in the area to stop the vice.

He said if nothing was be done, Matero could turn into another Chibolya best known for marijuana trafficking.

Another concerned resident, Mirriam Kuseka, said she had also witnessed some young girls smoking cannabis in groups of boys.

“I don’t know where this world is coming to. I have seen young and skimpily dressed girls smoking marijuana in the company of boys. Government should move in quickly before Matero becomes another Chibolya,” Ms Kuseka said.

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