The National, Wednesday October 9th, 2013
By ZACHERY PER
A 70-year old marijuana seed distributor in Bena, Eastern Highlands, has called it quits.
Following his lead, a number of youths from the area promised never to farm or trade in the illegal substance on Monday when they burnt marijuana plants and what they had already prepared for sale.
James Amura first brought marijuana seeds from Kesavaka in Henganofi district, Eastern Highlands, and had been heavily involved in supplying seeds for the last 30 years.
In an interview on Monday at his Makia village, Amura said: “I reconciled with God to attend church and worship God and I will no longer grow marijuana.”
He said he was on a coffee-buying trip into Kesevaka 30 years ago and was introduced to the marijuana plant and he was given some seeds to plant in his garden.
“The plant became popular and I started to supply seeds to interested growers in the area and nearby provinces, but I do not sell to big buyers of both seeds and the plant, I only sell to small-time buyers,” Amura said.
He said all the marijuana cultivators, smokers and traders heavily relied on him for marijuana seeds.
Amura said after a week-long of Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Evangelism meeting with church minister Robert Gehinaki, they decided to quit marijuana and go to church.
Another former prominent drug dealer Danny Yape, 30, said a 10kg bag fetched K10,000.
“I used to be a professional drug dealer at Goroka and Nadzab airports where we pack them in brief cases and shift them, we have understanding with the guards and they get their share from the proceeds,” he said.
Yape said over the eight years he was involved in his illegal trade, he shifted a substantial amount of marijuana to places like Kimbe, Daru, Madang, Port Moresby, Wewak, Vanimo and even to Australia via the Torres Straight Islands.
“Now I’ve given up and converted to the church, now I am waiting to get my baptism soon,” he said.
Other youths who gave up the supply or trade, confirmed that they had a strong and reliable network in places like Lae, Madang, Daru, Vanimo and even Australia.
They gathered 10 packaged marijuana in 10kg bags and burnt them in front of Makia SDA Church and called on other cultivators and users in Bena to come forward and give it up and join them in the church.