Kampala — UGANDA is East Africa's biggest producer of the Cannabis plant, commonly known as Marijuana, the head of the Anti Narcotics Unit at the Criminal Investigations Department said yesterday.
Speaking at a meeting organised by the Ministry of Health in Kampala to plan a strategy for controlling drug abuse in Uganda, Mr Michael Were said most production is for commercial and domestic consumption.
"Available data shows Uganda is the highest producer of Cannabis in East Africa. Most of the districts in Uganda are growing this plant mostly for commercial gain," Mr Were said.
He said during a joint operation meeting on narcotics held in Arusha, Tanzania last month, Uganda was identified as the leading grower of cannabis in the region.
Marijuana is a green, brown or gray mixture of dried, shredded flowers and leaves of the hemp plant known as Cannabis Sativa. It is the most commonly used illicit drug, considered a soft drug. It is smoked or chewed for euphoric effect.
Smoking or chewing Marijuana is the main cause of mental disorders which are soaring at an alarmingly high rate in the country.
It is for this reason that the Ministry of Health is coming up with a Master Plan on the establishment of a national coordinating body on drug control, provision of treatment, awareness and prevention, strengthening and formulating new legislation.
Latest reports indicate that Cocaine and Heroin, two of the world's addictive narcotic drugs are being smuggled into western markets through Uganda.
Dr David Basangwa, a consultant psychiatrist at Butabika National Psychiatric hospital said drug abuse in Uganda is on the increase.
Dr Basangwa, said before, people used to abuse traditional drugs like marijuana but of late, addicts are also using heroin and cocaine.
He said these drugs are dangerous because they contribute to health complications, crime and social disorder. "We need to move faster and control them before they go out of hand," he said.
He said 20 per cent of all patients admitted at Butabika Mental and Rehabilitation Hospital are a result of alcohol and drug abuse.
Wakiso, Mukono, Luweero, Kalangala, Masaka, Bushenyi, Kyenjogyo, Iganga Busia and Bugiri, Mr Were said are some of the core marijuana growing district.
Mr Were said a joint operation carried by the Uganda and Kenya Police in Busia for example found that last year alone, the district had over 48 acres of cannabis.