Cannabis consumption has reached an alarming height in Bangladesh. Although there is no official data, there are an estimated 6-7 Million weed users in the country. A wide range availability makes it the ‘household’ drug in Bangladesh. It dominates get-together among friends and acquaintances and gave the word ‘chill’ a different meaning altogether.
At a time when the use of Yaba is rampant, cannabis/weed/ganja takes the privilege of being underestimated. It is available almost every corner of Dhaka city and comes cheap. Atleast 300 active drug peddlers are scattered around Dhaka alone. On an average, a 25 gram pouch costs just 200-350 tk, which is way within the reach of the youth.
Weed is the most common illicit drug in Bangladesh. Be it hangouts or after a long day at work, ‘sessions’ accompanied by friends became the top activity on weekends. Besides adults, kids as young as 8th graders ‘chill’ after school at one of their buildings’ roofs. Among them, not ‘smoking up’ is considered old fashioned or ‘not trendy’.
However they are not to blame. The lack of things to do in Dhaka has made the city dwellers prefer resorting to such outlets. If you are to meet up your friends in the city, you either have to go to a cafe or a shopping mall. Once it gets boring, one of your friends would invite you to their house for a ‘quality’ chilling. But what they are unaware is that a prolonged use of cannabis would only harm them.
Studies by National Institute on Drug Abuse in America suggest how weed can affect brain development. If teenagers starts taking it regularly from a young age, it would lead to impaired thinking, learning and memory functions. If they alter these developments while growing up, the result is an uncertain future.
It was not long ago when school goers saved their pocket money to score few points in video games. Now they save it up to ‘score’ a pouch of weed. Such transactions take place openly, despite the presence of a strict legal monitoring.
The existing law, Narcotics Control Act 1990 governs drug abuse and imposes certain punishments in Bangladesh. An excerpt from it’s penalty section is given below:
Ganja or any kind of herbal cannabis:
(a) If the quantity of narcotics exceeds 5 kgs. imprisonment for a term which shall not
be less than 6 months and shall not exceed 3 years.
(b) If the quantity of narcotics exceeds 5 kgs imprisonment for a term which shall not
be less than 3 years and shall not exceeds 3 years
Section 19 of the Act also imposes life imprisonment or even death penalty to anyone possessing tetra-hydro-cannabinol exceeding the quantity of 10 grams.
The Act also provides punishment for keeping or growing Marijuana varies from 6 month to 15 years jail. The criminalisation took place soon after Bangladesh signing the Geneva Convention in 1974. The Narcotics Control Act 1990 empowers the court to even impose death penalty for carrying an amount exceeding 2 kgs! Although it depends entirely on the discretion of the individual judge.
Weed is certainly a gateway drug. It has nothing fashionable about it. It opens the possibility of experiencing other stimulants and hallucinogens which eventually leads to a complete destruction. It is a curse that is silently destroying relationships among families. Moreover, absence of family values and moral degradation play a contributory role.
Therefore parents must constantly observe what their child is up to, the kind of company he/she is involved with and behavioural patterns. The law can only be made stricter with the combined efforts of the civilised class.