Drug use has been a part of North African culture for centuries. One of the most well-known traditional drugs in the region is khat, a plant native to the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. The leaves of the khat plant contain cathinone, a stimulant that is similar in structure to amphetamines. Khat is typically chewed or brewed, and its use is associated with social and cultural rituals in countries such as Yemen, Somalia, and Ethiopia. In North Africa, the use of khat is most prevalent in countries such as Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco, where it is traditionally consumed by men in social settings.
Cannabis, also known as marijuana or hashish, has a long history of use in North Africa. The plant is believed to have originated in Central Asia and has been used for recreational and medicinal purposes for thousands of years. In North Africa, cannabis is grown in countries such as Morocco and Algeria, where it is used to produce hashish, which is then smuggled to other countries. The use of cannabis is also common among young people and marginalized groups in the region.
In recent years, the region has seen an increase in the use of synthetic drugs such as opioids, as well as the trafficking of drugs from other parts of the world. The countries of the Maghreb, which includes Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt, have become a transit point for drugs smuggled from Latin America to Europe. This is because of their geographic location, which allows traffickers to take advantage of the porous borders and weak law enforcement in the region.
To combat the problem of drug trafficking, North African countries have started to take steps to improve their law enforcement capabilities. For example, Morocco has implemented a number of measures to reduce the cultivation of cannabis, such as increasing the number of patrols and setting up specialized units to combat drug trafficking. Tunisia has also started to take steps to improve its border security, including the deployment of more border guards and the use of new technology to detect drugs.
- Khat: An overview of the available evidence. (2016). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5108556/
- The history of cannabis use. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317221
- Drug trafficking in the Maghreb: a growing threat. (2020). Retrieved from https://www.crisisgroup.org/middle-east-north-africa/north-africa/algeria/drug-trafficking-maghreb-growing-threat
- Morocco’s anti-cannabis campaign. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-48659038
- Tunisia’s anti-narcotics efforts. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/02/tunisia-anti-narcotics-efforts-border-security-fight-drug-trafficking.html