Kampala, Uganda – Facing an upsurge in drug use, Uganda’s parliament is debating the enactment of a tough new narcotics-control bill into law. According to the legislation, drug trafficking would be punished with life imprisonment, while possession would result in a minimum fine of $4,000, or two years in jail.
In Kampala’s bustling nightlife, cocaine is readily available. The international airport in the city of Entebbe, meanwhile, has gained notoriety in recent years as a thriving conduit for the narcotics trade.
In December 2012, the death of a young and popular member of parliament, Cerinah Nebandah, after an overdose of cocaine sent reverberations throughout parliament.
Private rehab facilities for affluent addicts have sprouted up in Uganda.
The majority of Kampala’s drug users live less glamorously, however. Crack, heroin and marijuana are popular on the capital’s streets. Heroin is cheap enough to be an after-work routine for many in the slums who barely earn enough money for food.
The Uganda Harm Reduction Network cares for drug users, advocating for their rights to health officials and offering needle exchanges. The NGO group is run by ex-drug users.
Like Uganda’s controversial anti-pornography and anti-homosexuality laws enacted earlier this year, the Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances Bill would mean harsh repurcussions for many already on the margins of society.