Over this past decade, the number of Kenyans smoking marijuana has increased tremendously with the youths being at the forefront of abusing this drug. Even though the use of this drug is prohibited in the country, a large number of citizens still find a way to access this gateway drug either for recreational purposes or just in order to resell it.
Peddlers who are distributing this drug locally make a killing as this drug is quite expensive even when sold in small quantities. This is because of the huge risk suppliers take when distributing this drug right under the authorities’ noses.
How it is sold
Most cannabis users often opt to smoke the drug, inhaling the marijuana-laced hot air straight to their brains. This is why most cannabis products are mostly sold in form of blunts (when bhang is rolled just like a cigarette but using regular rolling papers).
But for those who hate walking around reeking of the bhang smoke, there is an option for edibles (bhang that is baked either into cookies or cakes). Others opt to use vape pens and some even infuse the drug with tea and drink it.
For those who want the drug to kick in immediately, they generally prefer smoking as the smoke is directly absorbed by the lungs, into the bloodstream and straight to the brain. Weed edibles or weed tea take longer to be absorbed as they have to be digested like regular food.
How do Youths get hooked?
Many young promising adults are often introduced to this drug at very young ages, some even as early as high school or in the early stages of campus life. During this time, a young mind is very impressionable and quickly picks on any action and quickly transforms it into a habit.
A study on the drug revealed that 3 out of 4 teenagers who start using bhang at such early ages easily get hooked and it becomes harder for them to quit this detrimental habit even as they age.
As reported by several users, most of them were introduced to the drugs by their peers, who at the time, tagged the use of marijuana as ‘cool’, while others were just looking for a way to escape this harsh reality or just their troubling thoughts which led them to try this prohibited drug.
Some youths are also influenced by today’s media. In this social media era especially, many of the youths are being pressured to try and emulate what they see on other people’s timelines.
How today’s music influences young minds
Gengetone music is slowly becoming the anthem to many teenagers and youths in Kenya. Despite supporting these young artists, we will not fail to talk about how the messages they relay on their songs negatively influence young adults.
Most of these genge artists mainly sing about drugs, party life or sexual matters. And you will find their fans; who are 90% young people, happily singing or jamming to their lyrics.
These lyrics, however, are not only for the dance floor. Many of today’s youths emulate what they hear in the songs because according to this generation, this is what they look at as their normal lifestyle.
This message gets imprinted harder and harder in their brains as more and more of these songs continue being played in the TV and radio channels and eventually, you will find even the strongest willed youths falling into the peer pressure trap and losing themselves to bhang addiction.
How Marijuana affects the brain
To understand why it is that many youths seem to love and even enjoy this drug too much, let’s first look at how marijuana affects the brain. Bhang contains mind-altering substances which control how your brain and body work.
The main component found in the drug is THC, a psychoactive ingredient, which stimulates the areas of your brain which are responsible for pleasure. It does this by triggering the brain to release dopamine, the happy hormone which leaves you with a feeling of euphoria or as many call it, ‘being high’.
When high on weed, everything feels better, music sounds better on your ears, food tastes greater and even sex becomes more enjoyable. This is what leads many users to keep on using, unaware of the possible dangers that may arise from long-term smoking of pot.
So let’s look at how the smoking of pot has affected many Kenyan youth lives socially, financially, emotionally and even in their studies.
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How it affects Learning
It is not advisable for any school going students, be it high school or college to embrace the use of marijuana. This drug has been known to cause adverse effects especially for someone who is trying to learn something new. Some of the effects on students are:
•Students on marijuana are reported to have really low attention spans, have trouble in learning and also have memory issues. Being in this state can go on even 24 hours after taking the drug.
•Many students who smoke pot have reported lower grades in school than their counterparts who didn’t take the regular toke. These students also have a lower chance at graduating and most of them even end up dropping out of school once and for all.
•Marijuana smokers have also found it hard to recall what they are taught in class as the drug impairs the ability to grasp any new information.
•Smoking students also have found it hard to register, organize and use information as compared to those who don’t.
Effects on social life
In confessions made by frequent pot users, they have revealed that once smoking became a habit, they withdrew from most of their friendships, mainly opting to stay home and smoke away rather than head out.
These are some of the social effects weed has brought upon many Kenyan youths:
•Many pot smokers are abandoned by their non-smoking friends who associate this habit with committing crimes.
•One changes from being an outgoing and social individual to becoming a quiet person who is withdrawn and generally only opts for his/her own company.
•Some youths who are highly addicted may turn to theft as a means of supporting their habit.
•One becomes more selfish as they lack consideration for others.
•The stench coming from marijuana smoke on your clothes or breath generally pushes more friends away.
•Marijuana greatly heightens anxiety issues as one gets really nervous around other people. Even though most people use it to solve their anxiety issues, it may help for a short while but then it makes your situation worse.
Health Effects of Marijuana
Smoking of marijuana has adversely affected the health of many Kenyan youths, with addiction being at the forefront. Let’s see some of the immediate and long term effects this drug has brought upon its consumers.
•Marijuana users are highly likely to develop suicidal thoughts as the drug has been reported to increase depression rates among avid consumers.
•Most consumers are known to have an increase in chronic coughing.
Some users who heavily smoke the drug have hallucinations and sometimes delusion. The drug makes you imagine things that are not actually there.
•Using marijuana is also known to cause heart attacks especially to people who have been diagnosed with other heart conditions. Within an hour of smoking the drug, a person’s heartbeat increases by 20-100% while his blood pressure decreases.
•Regular smoking of the drug reduces bone density for the user which can increase the likelihood of one getting bone fractures.
•Smokers face burning and stinging of their throat and mouth caused by the pot smoke.
•The likelihood of getting chest related illnesses also increases tenfold.
•Chronic smokers have a great chance of developing cannabis-related syndrome which is associated with loss of control over cannabis use.
•Pot users are known to have poor motor coordination which may lead to car accidents.
The use of this drug has been proven to have a greater number of risks to one’s health than the benefits it has. And since we have learnt that the effects are actually worse when it comes to the users who started smoking pot as early as their teen years, it is important that the youth are amply educated on the negative effects of this drug, rather than side-lining them or looking at them as criminals.
It is important to note, that using drugs is barely an act of rebellion, rather, many people who are known as chronic smokers may have some heavy mental issues that they are trying to battle with. As citizens of this country and even just as decent human beings, it is up to us to be considerate and actually show support to those who are affected.
And if you are one who has been trying to quit or even thought of quitting, it is important for one to look for the underlying problem which he/she is trying to solve by smoking weed and find a different and healthy solution for the problem.
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