West African governments should overhaul their drug laws to decriminalise personal use and prioritise treatment as a response to rising substance abuse in the region, former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo said on Tuesday. Before he was due to present a model drug law to regional officials in Senegal, Obasanjo urged authorities to channel resources into fighting large-scale trafficking, which he said was undermining regional democracy. The use of substances like cocaine, heroin and amphetamines is rising in West Africa despite strict drugs laws. Countries that once served primarily as transit points for trade between South America and Europe are now active consumer markets.

"All of us in West Africa know now that drugs are not just in transit through our countries. Our youth are becoming more and more consumers, even some form of drugs are being produced," Obasanjo said. In 2016, the last year for which data was available, Africa registered the second-highest growth in co...

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