In a determined effort to combat the rising menace of kush, a synthetic drug blending cannabis and chemicals that has plagued Sierra Leonean society, Vice President Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh announced a proactive campaign against this substance, now recognized as a significant public health concern. The declaration, made on Saturday, November 11, underscores the government’s commitment to tackle the pervasive issue fueled by a thriving local market.
Andrew Pemagbi, who has witnessed the devastating impact of kush on his son, David, reflects the broader challenge faced by hundreds of Sierra Leoneans. He laments, “I did everything to educate him but in vain. It’s disheartening.” Recognizable by their staggering demeanor and ulcer-swollen feet, individuals addicted to kush can be found throughout major cities, cutting across all age groups.
Initially driven by its affordability at 5 leones per dose, the current surge in consumption is sustained by a burgeoning local market.
Andrew Pemagbi sheds light on a disturbing trend, stating, “Today, people make kush themselves. They go to cemeteries, collect bones from buried individuals, and prepare them as they wish. It’s truly a serious problem in Sierra Leone right now.”
The mysterious composition of this new form of kush, with its mystical undertones, has also captured the attention of authorities, particularly the unit combating transnational organized crime. Briama Kamara, the police spokesperson, acknowledges the reports, saying, “We haven’t had a chance to see someone digging up corpses to extract bones, but that’s what everyone is talking about.”
To curb kush consumption, law enforcement agencies are now targeting traffickers. Recent weeks have seen numerous arrests in cities such as Freetown, Makeni, Bo, and Kenema. Kamara emphasizes, “It’s a battle, and it’s a battle the government must win, or we will have a lost generation.”
In addition to law enforcement, music becomes another weapon in the fight against kush. Artists like King Boss Laj are using their platform to raise awareness among the youth, encouraging them to say no to kush.
While there is no official count of cases, the country’s sole psychiatric hospital reports that over 60% of individuals suffering from mental illnesses are linked to kush addiction.
Lucy Cecilia Lamine, from the NGO Advocacy for the Rehabilitation of Mentally Disadvantaged Victims, points out that the high consumption of kush is exacerbated by the lack of structures to address mental health disorders. As Sierra Leone confronts this complex challenge, the multifaceted approach seeks to not only address the immediate issue but also lay the groundwork for long-term solutions.