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CANNABIS INDUSTRY 

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Seychelles: 33% of Public Support Cannabis Legalization, 49% Oppose, as Government Struggles With Horror Spike in Heroin Addiction

Seychelles: 33% of Public Support Cannabis Legalization, 49% Oppose, as Government Struggles With Horror Spike in Heroin Addiction

In a first-ever survey in Seychelles, Afrobarometer explored citizens' views on drugs. Seychellois say they want drug abuse, addiction, and trafficking to be prioritized after the management of the island's economy. The survey showed a strong resistance to legalization with 49% of those polled opposing it, while 30% were in favour.

Anne Okello, Afrobarometer assistant project manager for East Africa

8 July 2024 at 08:00:00

This report from Afrobarometer published on 5 July 20224.


Key findings


· Drug abuse, addiction, and trafficking rank second on a list of the country's most important problems that Seychellois want their government to address. One-fourth (25%) of respondents identify these drug-related issues as one of the country's top three challenges.


· A majority (55%) of Seychellois say the government is performing "fairly well" or "very well" in tackling drug abuse.


· Nearly half (46%) of citizens oppose decriminalising the sale and consumption of marijuana or cannabis.


· More than one-third (37%) of Seychellois consider intensifying efforts to reduce drug trafficking the most effective strategy to combat drug abuse.  A further 28% say heavily penalising drug users is the best option.


· More than four in 10 respondents (44%) think that ordinary Seychellois can play a role in the fight against drug abuse.


In Seychelles, a surge in heroin use has more than quadrupled the estimated number of users, from 1,200 in 2011 to 5,000-6,000 in 2019 - meaning that nearly 10% of the country's working-age population is dependent on the drug. 


This would give Seychelles the highest national per-capita heroin-use rate in the world. Cannabis is also widely consumed, while the use of other drugs, such as crack cocaine and methamphetamines, is steadily rising.


Seychelles' Division for Substance Abuse Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation (DSAPTR) says it endeavours to curb drug abuse through a variety of programmes. Its methadone treatment programme, based on an approach to drug policy that views drug addiction as a chronic disease, has received local criticism for its distribution of needles, which seeks to avert the spread of HIV and hepatitis C through the sharing of needles.


Meanwhile, reports of police harassment of drug users has raised concern within civil society that Seychelles will move toward a "zero tolerance" approach under which drug users are penalised rather than assisted.


In its first-ever survey in Seychelles, Afrobarometer included a special module of questions to explore citizens' views related to drugs. Seychellois say that drug abuse, addiction, and trafficking should be the government's second-highest priority, trailing only management of the economy. 


A majority of citizens think the government is doing a decent job of tackling drug abuse, but views are divided on whether ordinary Seychellois can play a role in fighting drug abuse.


Only about one-third of respondents favour legalising the sale and consumption of marijuana. Asked what they consider the most effective strategy to curb drug abuse, Seychellois most often cite intensifying efforts to reduce trafficking and enforcing severe penalties for users.


From the Archives: New Seychelles activist group, the Kanabis Association, to lobby for legalization on the Indian Ocean island.



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