The Future of Cannabis In Nigeria
Nigeria is a major source of West African Grown Marijuana, as it’s widely produced across different states in the country.
This drug can be easily bought either during the day or at night; so it’s no surprise that the United Nations office on drugs and crime (UNODC) ranked Nigeria as the country with the 3rd highest consumption rate in the world with Iceland at the top and the US in the second place.
With an overpopulated country like Nigeria, reports show that the increasing use of drugs is due to the high level of poverty and unemployment. Peer pressure, relief of stress and lack of jobs seems to be the underlying reasons for why many young users decide to consume the drug
After a while, some begin to find other drugs that are stronger in order to recreate the euphoric feeling they once had when they started. Something that started as harmless fun soon turns into a daily habit that they must oblige in order to feel alive
Some of them justify their use by insisting that it was God’s gift to man.
Some unemployed youths have taken this as a full-time career as it’s been known to be a money magnet. Even whilst shooting, customers continue to troop in.
This high level of consumption and production rate makes it very clear that the country could increase its local economy by legalizing this drug.
Some reports from the Colorado State University, recently found that the cannabis industry has contributed more than $58 million to the local economy primarily through tax and other fees.
Countries like Lebanon and Thailand have begun to look at the prospect of legalizing marijuana cultivation for medicinal use, in a bid to boost their troubled economies.
African countries such as Zimbabwe and Lesotho have also legalized medicinal marijuana; In Zimbabwe, both individuals and Co-operation may apply for a license to grow the plant; whilst in Lesotho, they solicit for foreign investment to grow medical marijuana on their soil, in order for them to become one of the top exporters.
Medicinal marijuana has been projected to be a billion dollar industry in the next few years; Nigeria needs to take a proactive stance to get a slice of the pie.
In 2016, reports revealed that the two Nigerian states; Ondo and Osun known for massive production of Cocoa and Rice went from being the highest producers of the crops in the country to the highest producers of marijuana.
The farmers say it’s easier and more lucrative to plant marijuana than cocoa; as it takes then 3- 4 years to plant and sell cocoa at the low price of N500 per kilogram, compared to marijuana that takes just 6 months with little labor retailing for almost N10, 000 per kilogram.
However, the Nigerian Drug agencies are quick to reprimand people who have taken this route. Between 2013 and 2015, they destroyed farmlands containing 68.1 million Kilogramme of cannabis with the street value of N681 billion.
With such tight security and relentlessness from the drug agencies, traffickers have been forced to come up with strategic means to get their goods across to their customers; but unfortunately, not every journey is successful.
The users are also not spared; always vigilant to avoid being arrested by the police.
During the day, it’s very easy to find young people gathered together smoking and in many cases, wetting their throat with codeine infused water. But for some users, they prefer to take codeine in its raw form
The war against marijuana is one that the Government seems to be focused on but if prescription drugs like codeine and Rohypnol abused by many youths can be easily accessed; they need to redirect their energies into curbing that menace.
It is about time that we take the recommendation from the United Nation to decriminalize marijuana and the recreational use of other addictive drugs, in order to open room for rehabilitation. Ex-president Obasanjo has also advocated for the overhaul of drug laws; Pushing for the decriminalizing of personal use and prioritizing of treatment as a response to rising substance abuse in the region.
Placing huge restrictions on a highly demanded commodity gives room for black market traders to thrive as the market is unregulated.
This is why Presidential aspirant Omoyele Sowore has included in his campaign that he would not only decriminalize it but legalize as he views it as a way to boost the economy
But not all politicians have warmed up to the idea. Governor of Imo state Rochas Okorocha has been very vocal about his dislike for the drug
In 2019, the conversation around legalizing marijuana and the boom of medicinal marijuana seems to be dominant; Will Nigeria join other countries that have decriminalized and legalized it? I guess time will tell….