Warning as Copen drug increases in potency


Copen drug is evolving and becoming more potent, a Borderline resident warns.

Kwaso, the illegal home-made liquor, is reportedly the latest ingredient in the production of Copen.

This poses greater risks for Copen users and their communities.

The East Honiara Borderline resident, who requests anonymity, says kwaso replaces water when making Copen to provide a ‘stronger kick to that high feeling users get when taking Copen’.

The resident also warns that authorities need to act fast because the Copen business is highly lucrative with a huge turnover, and that more and more people are becoming users.

“Copen profit is just too much to resist. You spend say $100 for ingredients and production, and end up earning $600.

“Producers spend $100 and cook Copen, produce 120 packets, sell each for $5. This process can be repeated four to five times per day because of the high demand.

“A normal sales day rakes in thousands of dollars for producers and salesmen and women.

“Users range from children as young as five, to primary and secondary students, unemployed boys, girls, men and women, employed men and women, non-smokers and smokers.

“Marijuana sellers are switching to selling Copen, even marijuana users are switching to Copen.”

People have reportedly become ill from Copen, with stories of Copen being implicated in the death of some people, the resident says.

“In our neighbourhood of the huge Borderline settlement, people have become ill from Copen. Mid last year a group of men and women came and chased the producer who is my neighbour, demanding compensation because their kid had fallen ill after taking Copen purchased from him.

“I hear several stories of some people having died, one who was reported to be drunk and took Copen and it was believed she accidentally swallowed it,” the resident said.

Students are reportedly losing the interest to go to school, or are doing poorly at school in relation to Copen usage, the resident adds.

“Most of the users in my neighbourhood are young girls, teens, followed by young students. More and more of these children are not going to school, preferring to hang out with their peers and get high on scoop [street name of Copen].

“My neighbour is having a hard time with her two young children, having to force them every day to go to school.”

Last year Island Sun reported the extent of Copen in the country with incidence reported from Choiseul and Western province in the west to Temotu province in the east.

It is reportedly prevalent in Honiara, Renbel province and Wagina, Choiseul province.

Copen is still to be recognised and defined by law as a drug or as an illegal one. This remains to be an obstacle to law enforcement against the substance.

Drug and Alcohol unit of Community policing could not be reached yesterday for comments, however, an officer told Island Sun in November last year that because the law does not recognise Copen, police cannot do much against it.

“There is a lot needed to be done on Copen such as research, laboratory studies and investigation, and as for now, we can only do limited awareness on Copen to schools and communities we visit,” the officer said.

Initially, the Copen problem was left to parents and communities to tackle.

But, on December 5 last year, minister for Health Dr Culwick Togamana took a new turn on the campaign against Copen by revealing that it has caught his ministry’s attention.

He said the Health ministry will take Copen head-on with a to-do list which includes: sending samples overseas for testing, upgrading the lab here to enable Copen testing to be carried out locally, working with police against Copen, put together a communication plan against Copen, work with the Education ministry to carry out a survey nationwide to gauge the effects and impacts of Copen.

Copen is made using household items and tobacco leaves. Its ingredients are readily accessible in the country, which is seen as a factor to its huge prevalence.

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