High marijuana use a growing phenomenon in Iran

Iranian police reportedly pay little heed to the vast use of marijuana, which is vaguely mentioned in the country's harsh Islamic penal code.

A marijuana leaf (photo credit: REUTERS)
A marijuana leaf
(photo credit: REUTERS)
In the ultraconservative nation of Iran that is known to uphold a harsh code of conduct, the popularity of marijuana is growing with little interference by the government. 
According to a New York Times report Saturday, Iranian police pay little heed to the vast use of marijuana, which is allegedly vaguely mentioned in the country's Islamic penal code.
In Iran, alcohol is illegal and consumption can be penalized with up to 99 lashes or a fine. The government has also engaged in an extensive war on hard drugs such as heroin and opium and with Afghan cartels. However, there are reportedly no prison sentence or physical repercussions for people in possession of small amounts of the drug.
Although the Iranian government is reported to annually execute hundred of drug dealers, the low threat of backlash over weed has reportedly catapulted the use of the drug.
According to the Times report, 'gol' or 'flower' as the drug is called in Iran is found ubiquitously around Tehran and a high number of public places ranging from ski resorts to restaurants in cities throughout the Islamic Republic.
The report cited local experts as saying most cannabis seeds are smuggled from Amsterdam and then genetically enhanced to yield more potency. The experts also noted that an increasing amount of Iranian-produced marijuana is laced with other drugs.
While marijuana is often viewed throughout the world as a nonaddictive drug, Iranian rehabilitation clinics treating people who are admitted with substance abuse problems have indicated that widespread phenomenon of marijuana smoking in the country.
The Times report cited Hossein Katbaei, the director of the Camp Jordan rehabilitation center, as saying that over the past five years, the number of patients treated for marijuana abuse has quadrupled.
Katbaei also stated that the patient demography in his clinic has changed with the increase of the popularity of marijuana, which he asserted is often used as a gateway drug.
“They are from middle-class families, often reasonably well off,” a former drug addict who became a counselor at the clinic told the Times of the patients' backgrounds.
“They feel useless. Live at home. Their future is one big unknown. Some years ago we would only have a couple. At first they think it is harmless, but those who use it too much get depressed and ultimately psychotic,” the Times quoted Youssef Najafi as saying.