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Synthetic Marijuana, Black Mamba A new deadly form of marijuana is slowly wreaking havoc in Nigeria's cities

By pulse

The artificial variant of marijuana, also called "Black Mamba", has been reported to cause mental episodes, hallucinations, convulsions, kidney failure and a ‘zombie-like’ state of intoxication that can lead to death.

There’s a new drug on the streets of Lagos.
Most users prefer to smoke it, usually mixed with high-grade marijuana and rolled up in papers like tobacco and weed.

Although it can come in almost any color, the backroom chemists who make it often use dried herbs or lawn clippings to make sure it looks closely like the real stuff, so it often appears something between a deep shade of green and damp brown.

In the real sense, it looks a lot like marijuana, but it’s the farthest thing from marijuana that you’ve ever heard of.

It is widely reported that, beneath the surface of daily activity, Nigeria is on the cusp of a major drug problem.

The aggressive emergence of a culture of casual drug use has been supported by the presence of players at every major level of the drug chain.

On one hand, production is high as ever, even as makers of amphetamine have been discovered in Lagos and Rivers.

Nigeria’s status as a transit country is also not in question; since the early years of military rule, large amounts of cocaine have been funneled through the country under various guises.

And now, while the consumption of drugs like marijuana and opioids like Codeine and Tramadol has reached an alarming rate, a new, unfriendly substance is causing convulsions, kidney failure and a ‘zombie-like’ state of intoxication that can lead to death.

play It is nearly impossible to tell synthetic marijuana apart from the natural stuff. Rolled, or otherwise, there is almost no difference. (Press)

Synthetic marijuana, like the name suggests, is a collection of man-made chemicals that mimic the effect of marijuana and are sprayed on dried herbs or similar substances, wrapped in brightly colored packs and sold as an alternative to marijuana that is both ‘legal’ and more potent.

In the United States and the UK, it is sold under three major brand names; "Spice", "K2" and "Black Mamba", for as low as $1 per bag. This is key because it puts it in the ballpark of the most susceptible; the homeless, poor and young students.

In many ways, this affordability is a major reason why the use of the drug is spreading rapidly in areas like Lagos, Port-Harcourt, and Abuja.

But aside that, many other factors, like easy access, are contributing their quota.

Synthetic marijuana is relatively new in Nigeria, so the sale and use are not as ‘elaborate’ as it is on the other side.

It is mostly sold in head-shops here, small outfits that sell accessories used for the consumption of cannabis and tobacco, as well as items that form part of that culture, like weed-branded shirts and Bob Marley bandannas.

Outfits like this are scattered around Lagos and Victoria Islands.

There are also reports that it is sold by dealers of more expensive strains of marijuana and designer drugs in the highbrow areas of Lagos.

play Among the youth population, the abuse of Tramadol has reached epidemic proportions. Used capsules and sachets are often found anywhere from hostels to car parks, (Health Buzz)

Synthetic marijuana is sold in small quantities for a little as 2,000 naira and as much as 10,000 naira, depending on the size of the bag and where it is bought. The substance itself is sealed tight in small, shiny bags about the size of a sugar or tea bag with the brand name written across it.

On the streets where this drug is slowly claiming victims, the tags vary; ‘Colorado’, ‘Black Mamba’, ‘Lamba’ (when mixed with Loud, a highly potent strain of marijuana), ‘Happy Boy’ or ‘Scooby Snax’.

The names are admittedly more colorful than you’d expect; what the packs contain is anything but.

Most of the clamor against synthetic weed has been made by people who have either experimented with the drug, or have seen its effects on frequent, and even first-time users. And as more people come in contact with the drug, the numbers are rising and the voices are getting louder.

On social media website, Twitter, a user @sofireginaldrecounted her experience with the drug in a series of tweets.

Some of her friends had ‘tried’ the drug and, despite diluting it with large amounts of tobacco, what they got was nowhere near the pleasurable high they were hoping for; according to her tweets, one of them had gone completely deaf for three days, another went so mental that she was held in medical care for three weeks… and counting.

‘A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.’
By: Maya Angelou