Drug abuse: A national problem in Jordan


By Mike V. Derderian

IT IS high time that Jordanians face up to the fact that drug addiction is a reality which afflicts many a home especially among the youth. What drives them to smoke marijuana or take other forms of addictive drugs is a national problem that has to be dealt with in a modern and sober effort by all the elements of society.

Prime Minister Nader Dahabi dealt recently with the issue of the rise in drug abuse in the Kingdom when he submitted a report during a parliamentary session on December 20. Dahabi argued that this is a domestic problem that cannot be ignored by ?burying one?s head in the sand?.

Dahabi seems to have had enough of brushing aside what seems to be according to governmental censuses an increasing phenomenon. ?Each time the issue of drugs is brought into the open we are told the same old answers that claim Jordan is only a passageway for drug traffickers. We however sense otherwise and believe we are witnessing the rise of a major problem,? Dahabi announced.

Lawmaker Salah Al-Zu?bi, who according to news reports reproached his fellow parliamentarians for walking out of the session without seriously discussing the issue at hand, confided to The Star that the news reports about drug addiction and trafficking at universities might be a bit exaggerated. ?This is part of a campaign to tarnish the reputation of Jordanian universities,? Zu?bi explained.

The report revealed that the number of students in Jordanian colleges and universities involved in drug cases reached 229 students, 112 of whom were foreigners. The report also revealed the existence of 2,699 drug related cases?540 for trafficking and 2,159 for possession and personal use?involving 4,631 individuals of whom 4,031 were Jordanians and the remaining 600 were foreigners. The number of people caught for drug trafficking reached 944, whereas the remaining 3,687 were those caught for possession and use.

A detailed list of the quantity of drugs caught in the Kingdom disclosed the capture of 16,628,373 pills; 831 kg of hashish; 23 kg of heroin; 6,269 kg of cocaine; 12 kg of marijuana; 4,750 kg of opium; and 127 gm of hashish oil.

What concerns Zu?bi more than the increase of marijuana smoking among university students is glue and paint sniffing among youngsters and adolescents. ?Such material is available at hardware stores and carpentry shops. There isn?t much monitoring in those facilities where youth between the ages of 14-18 can easily obtain such materials to sniff them and thereby harming themselves. There should be a special legislation for such cases before anything else,? he added.

Zu?bi said that Palestine and Israel are two major drug exit points, associating the latter to a rather interesting conspiracy theory. ?The purpose of smuggling drugs like marijuana and heroin is to destabilize our society by destroying its youth ,? Zu?bi, who blames Western culture, where the demand for the legalization of certain drugs is on the rise.

The fight against drugs, according to Zu?bi, falls within the responsibility of the Anti-Narcotics Department (AND) at the Public Security Directorate. ?This is a fight that starts at our country?s borders. Still this doesn?t mean that governmental and non-governmental organizations and civil societies should not have part in this fight that threatens our country?s youth,? Zu?bi added.

On a final note he said that awareness campaigns should be broadcast on television and radio, flyers distributed to schools and universities, and guidance councilors and doctors should hold seminars for citizens so as to better acquaint them with the dangers of drug addiction.

?I tried magic mushrooms in Amsterdam, where drugs are legalized,? a young Jordanian confided before adding, ?it gave me such a weird feeling. Faces became elongated and I got so hyper. Eventually I retired to a room because I was afraid I was going to hurt myself. A young man a few months ago committed suicide in Amsterdam after eating some.?

Another 20-year old said that he actually tried marijuana. ?I just wanted to try it and see how it felt like,? explained the young man who was given the substance, or joint as referred to by its users, by a fellow co-worker.

In the meantime Minister of Interior, Eid Al-Fayez, acknowledged that there are no marijuana or poppy cultivation lands across the Kingdom. He also stated that there are no labs for extracting and processing drugs from such plants. Fayez further added that the government intends to issue a legislation that deals with first-time illegal drug users.

Few weeks ago, Jordanian customs caught 40 kg of Hashish hidden inside the tank of a car that had an Arab country?s license plate. At the beginning of the month the AND branch at Queen Alia International Airport caught one kilogram of cocaine hidden in the form of 143 capsules inside the body of a woman?a drug mule. The drugs were estimated to be worth JD55,000.

Source: “The Star”, Amman, 20 December 2008