Adolescent illicit marijuana practices in selected communities in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa: Implications for public health
Illicit marijuana practices, such as its commercial cultivation, trading and trafficking in South Africa, is a worrying phenomenon in spite of it being a criminal offence. This study aimed to provide empirical evidence on the nature of adolescents’ illicit marijuana practices in the Ingquza Hill Local Municipality of the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. A retrospective qualitative research approach was used to interview forty-seven participants from two communities selected through the snowball sampling technique and subdivided into four categories. The findings revealed that the participants were involved in illicit marijuana practices in the selected communities and most of the practices happened in their early childhood. An adolescent’s illicit marijuana practice was also found to be largely dependent on his or her physique, ability and the nature of marijuana-related activities perpetrated in their homes. The practices were however introduced either by their parents, caretakers, close relatives or peers. Illicit marijuana-related activities often carried out by the adolescents included sowing of seeds, watering, clearing of weeds, application of manure, harvesting, transporting, drying, sorting and in some cases, trafficking marijuana. The adolescents were often unaware of the illegal implications of their activities. The findings have serious public health implications for the affected communities as adolescents could be influenced to use marijuana leading to its associated health consequences. There is therefore a need to educate children, adolescents and their relatives on the dangers of indulging in illicit marijuana activities and also to equip them with desirable lifeskills so that they can refrain from illegal marijuana activities and avoid its deleterious health consequences.
Keywords: Drug trafficking, illicit drug production, Ingquza Hill Local Municipality, marijuana cultivation, South Africa
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