Increasing number of cannabis cultivation worries DEC
Mpika, May 14, ZANIS —– Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) Commissioner, Alita Mbahwe says the increase in the number of people cultivating and selling cannabis in Mpika district as a source of living is worrisome.
Ms Mbahwe observed that a lot of people in remote places have engaged themselves into drug trafficking and cultivating which has been perceived to be the quickest profit making business without realizing that they were committing a crime at the same time destroying the future generation.
The DEC Commissioner who is in Mpika on a five -day sensitization campaign against drug abuse and cultivation disclosed that from January to April 2013, the commission had confiscated and ceased 1.9 tons of dry cannabis from Mpika and 34 people were convicted.
Ms Mbahwe also explained that from the 34 convicts, 23 were men between the age of 18-30 while 10 were females between the same age and a boy.
She explained that the increase in cannabis cultivation and selling has made Mpika district to top the list in the first quarter of 2013 the situation which has raised concerns with the commission.
She added that government through the Ministry of Health is spending huge sums of money to procure medicine for the Psychiatric patients at Chainama Hospital saying that according to the statistics from the hospital, about three quarters of the mental patients are as a result of drug abuse.
Ms Mbahwe explained that in the prevailing situation, it is not easy for the country to develop because the psychiatrics have to be treated in order to have a health nation and appealed to the people of Mpika to stop cultivating cannabis as the commission will take stain action on those who will be caught after sensitization.
The most prone areas where cannabis is being cultivated at large scale is Lubunga, Mpamadzi and Kamwendo in Mfuwe constituency while in Kanchibiya constituency , cannabis is mostly grown in Muwele and Chiundaponde areas.
During the sanitization meetings, it was discovered that people in Kamwendo village have replaced their maize and rice fields with cannabis some of which they sell or exchange through batter system with solar panels, television sets, clothes among other things to drug dealers from Copper belt and Lusaka.
And Home Affairs Deputy Minister, Stephen Kampyongo who is a delegation leader, said although the trade in cannabis seem to have helped the people in rural areas, his ministry will soon swing in action to arrest those who will continue cultivating and selling cannabis adding that even their proceeds will be ceased.
Mr Kampyongo explained that government is in the process of revamping Kafue Nitrogen Chemicals so that the price of fertilizers is reduced and made available to all the farmers.
He argued that the excuse of inadequate fertilizer is not a guarantee for people to start breaking the law by venturing into the cultivation of psychotropic substances like cannabis which he said has contributed to increased crime rate in terms of defilement cases, and Gender Based Violence (GBV) between couples.
The Deputy Minister however encouraged the people of Mfuwe constituency to venture into rice production that will be supported by government.
Speaking at the same function, Chief Mpumba of the Bisa people in Mfuwe constituency of Mpika district thanked the DEC Commissioner and Ministry of Home Affairs for the move taken to sensitize his subjects before enforcing the law.
Chief Mpumba who confirmed the increased number of his subjects involved in cultivating and selling of cannabis said that the situation is serious and needs quick intervention.
The traditional ruler feared that if the law is not enforced it will be difficult to take development to the people and warned his subjects to stop harbouring drug dealers or they risk to be chased from his chiefdom.
He told Mr Kampyongo and the DEC Commissioner that his chiefdom in the past one year has recorded an increase in the number of crimes such as GBV and child defilement as a result of drug abuse.