‘I was alone, I took a ride
I didn’t know what I would find there
Another road where maybe I could see
another kind of mind there’
When Paul McCartney penned these lyrics for The Beatles’ “Got to Get You Into My Life”, he had just been introduced to marijuana. It is not known if these lines were on Prasad’s lips as he took a ride to Saidapet recently, desperately looking for a fix. The 26-year-old searched for ganja peddlers in the narrow alleys till he managed to find one, then took off to the outskirts of the city, where he stopped at a badly lit corner to crush, mix and roll a ‘joint’, before lighting up.
Prasad, an MBA graduate from a reputed IT company, didn’t get addicted to ganja while in college. Now, however, he says he cannot go out partying unless he’s had a joint, a habit he acquired through a colleague at work. Prasad claims ganja helps him unwind during weekends as work pressure and stress caused by deadlines accumulates over the week. Parties of IT professionals in his circles are not considered complete without ‘bazooka’ joints, smoked after several bottles of beer or other alcoholic beverages.
Marijuana (or ganja, grass, pot, weed) is the common name for a crude drug made from the plant Cannabis sativa. The main mind-altering ingredient in marijuana is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), but there are more than 400 other chemicals in the plant. The type of plant, the weather, the soil, the time of harvest and other factors determine the strength of marijuana.
“Smoking pot has become a sort of style statement among some sections of IT professionals,” says S Davidson Devasrivatham, zonal director of the Narcotics Control Bureau. Many youngsters in the industry are experimenting with ganja, which could become a gateway for more deadly narcotic drugs, he says. “They are glad to be identified as ‘pot’ smokers and many parties and get-togethers are being influenced by the drug. It is very dangerous not only to them, but also to their families.”
That has led to an increase in people visiting de-addiction centres in Chennai. “The reason is peer pressure. Some youth get hooked to the habit while in school and introduce others in the industry to it. It slowly catches on for various reasons, primarily because it is seen as the ‘in’ thing,” says Arivudainambi, executive trustee of Wisdom Hospitals that runs a de-addiction centre.
“The general window for addiction is seven days, which is enough for a person to get into the habit. Not just men, women too acquire the habit through boyfriends and colleagues,” Arivudainambi says. Women seek help for de-addiction as well, which is a new trend in the city. “Since we do not have female wards in the centre, women are being treated only as out-patients,” Arivudainambi informs.
Techies use modern communication to keep in touch with drug dealers; and drug-dealers have been known to use their clients as couriers and also peddlers. Some dealers even insist on money transfer to their accounts before delivering the drug, others use the backlanes of designated areas to sell only to regulars or those introduced through known sources. TP Chatram, Kodambakkam, Saidapet, Besant Nagar, Royapettah and Chennai Central railway station are well-known spots to pick up the drug. However, according to a top Narcotics Intelligence Bureau official, peddling in those areas has been curtailed to a major extent.