Sunday, August 01, 2010

Yemen Times: "Egypt’s 'Hashish Crisis' stokes bitterness"

I live in LA, where seemingly every third store sells so-called "medical marijuana," so don't read this and feel all superior or anything:
A shortage of hashish in Egypt is fueling anti-government conspiracy theories, and resentment among the public

It may be an attempt to maintain stability while the ailing president was abroad, or a pre-election clampdown on crime. But whatever the conspirators say, more and more Egyptians are asking: “Where has all the hashish gone?”

Hashish, the once ubiquitous yet illegal substance in Egypt, is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain in the country and it’s fueling conspiracy theories and general anxiety.

The issue is especially pertinent to the younger generation, the main consumers of the illegal drug derived from marijuana, who resort to the “remedy” as a retreat from their daily troubles.

Egypt amended laws in 1989 making the possession and trade of drugs punishable by life in prison or even death, but this has apparently not reduced the popularity of hashish.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a young Egyptian told The Media Line that its use is “very tolerated,” adding that his police officer friends had even asked him to store hash for them.

With a waning economy, an unclear political future and frequent reports of politically-motivated clampdowns against opposition activists, hashish has become a popular pastime for young people and a way to take a break from the daily rat race.

“It’s very prevalent,” Sam, author of the Egyptian blog Sand Monkey, told The Media Line. “It’s equal to beer use in the U.S.”

The shortage has caused the street prices to soar. Conspiracy theories abound. The talk of the coffee shops is “Where has it all gone?”

“It’s all half jokes and half conspiracy theories,” said the blogger Sam. “But no one really knows anything.”

A recently formed Facebook group in Arabic entitled “Together against the hashish crisis in Egypt” has so far garnered a modest following of 30 members.

"A large number of Egyptians appreciate hashish and these include decision makers, journalists and artists," according to the group’s manifesto.

Some Egyptians are reportedly tying the mysterious disappearance of the drug to the recent illness of President Hosni Mubarak and his trip abroad. Government officials, according to this theory, wanted to ensure country remained stable until the president’s return and beefed up security along the borders, which in turn has stemmed the flow of drugs into the country, according to the Egyptian daily Al-Youm A-Sabi.

However, Egyptians are skeptical that the authorities will be able to eradicate hashish altogether, the paper reported. This was because too many people in high places have vested interests in the drug trade and have cohorts in the official positions who will help them preserve their interests. [...]

No comments: