Sierra Leone Declares National Emergency Over Kush.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons. Diamond miners in Sierra Leone.
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Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio has declared a national emergency because of the rampant drug abuse in the country.

Many young men are using kush, a form of synthetic cannabinoid that has taken this West African nation by storm since it first appeared on the scene six years ago.

Routinely cut with an array of additives including acetone, the opioid tramadol and formalin, a toxic chemical commonly used to preserve bodies in mortuaries, kush is both potent and dangerously unpredictable.

It’s also easily accessible and dirt-cheap, and has proved irresistible to a generation of unemployed young Sierra Leoneans seeking an escape from lives of grinding poverty.

“Our country is currently facing an existential threat due to the devastating impact of drugs and drug addiction, in particular the devastating synthetic drug kush,” President Bio said in an address to the nation on Thursday.

“This deadly kush is taking a devastating toll on our communities.”

He said his government was working to dismantle drug trafficking networks in the country.

The drug – which is also known as K2 – is easily accessible to unemployed young people seeking an escape from poverty and traumas of life.

Health experts warn that kush intake can lead to permanent brain damage and suicidal actions.

In February, Sierra Leone’s government established a rehabilitation centre for victims of drug abuse and set up a ministerial task force.

Sierra Leone’s neighbours, Guinea and Liberia, are also fighting to contain an increase in kush consumption.

In Liberia, President Joseph Boakai declared drug abuse a public health emergency and announced a committee to tackle the “existential threat”, during his first state of the nation address in January.

Sources: BBC, NPR.

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