Spices – New Threat for the Tajik Youth
Author: Nargis Hamrabaeva, Tajikistan
While several years ago Tajikistan was concerned with young people being into opiates and stronger synthetic drugs, today there are concerns about the new-generation drugs – so-called spices.
The official reports of law enforcement agencies fail to contain any data on the seizure of spices. However, a quick survey among the young people showed that those smoking blends have long been popular in the country.
Spices are the smoking blends, which contain dry herbs and roots. The dried components themselves are not dangerous, but to make the smokers feel a more intense euphoria, the producers add cannabinoids, which are strong narcotic substances.
“For what I know, earlier spices were distributed in the nightclubs, but now they are mostly sold in the internet and through the grapevine. I also heard that sometimes naswar – the type of smokeless tobacco typical for Central Asia, containing tobacco and alkali (hydrated lime), which is popular among many local people – is processed in the same way as the spices,” says Aziz, a student from Dushanbe.
“Rich kids” having fun
Our anonymous respondent who has 20 years of experience working at law enforcement agencies said that it would not be right to say that young people in Tajikistan are addicted to spices, but this threat should not be disregarded.
“Yes, spices can be easily accessed, but their price is higher than the price of marijuana which young people have traditionally been smoking and continue smoking now. After the heroin “rush” at the turn of the century, many people who use drugs have been massively switching to marijuana and opiates. They strongly believe that marijuana is not more harmful than cigarettes,” he says.
According to him, spices are mostly used in nightclubs by those, who have enough money for it – the so-called “rich kids.”
“They think that spices do not cause addiction and that they can quit using them whenever they want as opposed to opiates and heroin,” says the law enforcer.
Spices do not have the euphoric effects they used to
However, Dr. Mahmadrahim Malakhov who studied the sociocultural aspects of the substance use in Tajikistan, says that the dependence develops much quicker when using spices than when using natural marijuana.
Meanwhile, the exact number of people who use drugs in Tajikistan is not known. Doctors say that few people who use drugs seek medical assistance when they want to quit. They are the ones who are included in the official statistics, which shows that there are a little more than 7 thousand people who use drugs in the country.
Last year, Tajik law enforcers seized about 4.5 tons of narcotic drugs, which is 29.8% more than the year before.
“In particular, 110 kg of heroin, 1.2 tons of raw opium, 2.4 tons of hashish and 742 kg of cannabis drugs were seized. The offences of 52 criminal groups consisting of 115 individuals were investigated and terminated, including five organized transnational groups,” said Murtazo Khaidarzoda, Deputy Head of the Drug Control Agency of the Republic of Tajikistan at the press conference.