Sierra Leone Declares National Emergency in Response to Surge in Deadly Synthetic Drug Kush Usage

President Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone has announced a national emergency on drug abuse in response to mounting pressure for his administration to address the growing problem of a dangerous and inexpensive synthetic drug called kush. This potent combination of marijuana, fentanyl, and tramadol has been linked to hundreds of fatalities and significant mental health issues among users since it emerged in the country about four years ago. However, exact death tolls are not known.

In a late-night speech on Thursday, Bio expressed grave concerns about the harmful impact of kush on the nation’s core demographic: its youth. He unveiled plans for a national task force on drug abuse, which will include representatives from various sectors and be overseen by a presidential advisory committee, to roll out a five-point plan aimed at achieving a drug-free future.

Kush’s affordability makes it especially appealing to the nation’s disaffected, jobless young people, a significant issue in Sierra Leone where poverty affects about a quarter of its citizens. The drug problem extends to neighboring Liberia as well.

Community leaders have been urging the government to intervene and assist in managing the drug crisis. Abdul Jalloh, who leads Sierra Leone’s sole psychiatric hospital, praised Bio’s emergency declaration as a vital measure in combating drug abuse in the country.