Nairobi — Nairobi has registered the highest prevalence of Cannabis use with National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA) estimating abuse by 1 in 53 Kenyans aged 15-65 nationwide.
NACADA placed the prevalence rate in Nairobi at 6.3 per cent compared to the national average of 3.4 per cent in a report published on Friday.
The capital city is followed by Nyanza (2.4 per cent) and Coast region at 1.9 per cent.
The 2022 Status of Drugs and Substance Use (DSU) in Kenya report indicates that one in every twenty-six males aged 15 – 65 years (475,770) and one in every 333 females (43,037) were using cannabis.
The number of people using cannabis was projected to have increased by 90 per cent since 2017.
The report attributed the growing demand for cannabis especially among the youth partly to the low perception of harm due to myths, misinformation, and misconceptions.
The survey results reveal that the prevalence of lifetime use of cannabis for the population aged 25 – 35 years stood at 3.7 per cent.
Males had a higher prevalence of lifetime use of cannabis (7.8 per cent) compared to females (0.6 per cent).
Those in the urban areas had a higher prevalence of lifetime use of cannabis (5.6 per cent) compared to their rural counterparts 2.4 per cent.
From a regional perspective, the Coast region had the highest prevalence of lifetime use of cannabis (7.7 per cent) followed by the Nairobi region (5 per cent).
Cause for alarm
Commenting on the findings, Interior Principal Secretary Raymond Omollo said the statistics on drug and substance abuse are truly alarming and deeply concerning.
He expressed worry over the young age of the most of drug and substance not that the country is staring at a huge crisis if quicker interventions are not put in place.
“When I first went through the 2022 Drug Use Report, it hit me that we were staring at a crisis of epic proportions. The fact that more than 4 million people used drugs in the country in 2022 was truly staggering, that is 1 in every 10 people,” PS Omollo said.
Omollo said that the potential and work force that could otherwise contribute to the growth and development of the country is “far worse now than at independence 60 years ago.”
“Unfortunately, the most productive years lie within this bracket, and this is fast being eroded by alcohol, that is the most actively used, and cannabis whose use has increased by 90 percent in the last 5 years,” he added.
NACADA CEO Victor Okioma said the revelations from the survey is very worrying singling out the drop in the age of initiation to as low as 6 yrs.
The NACADA boss pointed out that all the stakeholders need to work together to identify the root causes of the drug and substance abuse and come up with sustainable solutions.
He expressed concern over the online sale of drugs and substances of abuse thereby posing serious public health safety concerns as well as regulatory challenges that includes access to underage children.
Okioma said that the online sale may be further complicated by the penetration of mobile transfer services in Kenya and the expansion of internet access services.