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Drug education group kicks against bill to legalise Indian hemp consumption



THE organisation for Illicit Drug Abuse Education (IDAE), has described an advocacy to legalise or decriminalise the cultivation and consumption of Cannabis Sativa (Indian hemp/marijuana) in Nigeria as premature and ill-timed, given the level of development in the country.

 Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu had recently forwarded a bill to the National Assembly for an act to Regulate the Cultivation, Possession, Availability and Trade of Cannabis for Medical and Research Use and Related Purposes which is currently being considered at the National Assembly for passage into law.

 But IDAE in a strongly worded petition to the Senate President and Speaker of House of Representatives, a copy of which was made available to newsmen in Onitsha, Anambra State, contended that such a bill, if passed, could escalate illicit drug abuse and related offences in the country.

 In the statement duly signed by its president/founder, Anene Onyilegbe Gregory and copied to the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Narcotics, IDAE recalled that it was in good fate that the Dangerous Drugs Act (DDA), 1935; Indian Hemp Act (IHA), 1966 and NDLEA Act of 1989 were enacted respectively in Nigeria to deal with the cultivation and consumption of  Indian hemp/marijuana in the country.

 The petition, which was also copied to the Inspector-General of Police; NDLEA Chairman, Buba Marwa; Minister of Youths and Sports, Sunday Dare; Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige; Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Anambra State Association of Town Unions (ASATU); churches and Mosques, read in part: “There is a call to legalise or decriminalise the cultivation and consumption of Cannabis in Nigeria”.

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 “A lot of strong arguments have been canvassed to support this position. Prominent among these were that Cannabis has a high yield of edible proteins and fibres with more than 50,000 product applications ranging from paper making, textiles, biodegradable plastics, fuel, construction, healthy food, beverages, personal care products and pharmaceuticals”.

“Furthermore, the prohibition partners firm has been quoted to estimate the worth of the Cannabis market by 2023 in Africa to be over $7.1 billion US Dollars. In a similar vein, Bloomberg has been cited to place the worth in the global market to be $90.4 billion US Dollars by 2026”.

 “In addition to the above, Ghana, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and South Africa are few African countries cited where the cultivation and consumption of Cannabis have been legalised or decriminalised”.

 “Beyond the shores of Africa, a few cases cited were England, the United States of America,  Canada, Spain and Israel, as well as the positions of the West Africa Drugs Commission and the Global Commission on Drug Policy on the legalisation or decriminalisation of Cannabis”.

 “It is important to note that in spite of the prohibition of the cultivation and consumption of Cannabis in Nigeria, the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) has been quoted to have identified it as the most consumed drug in Nigeria, which was corroborated by the Telegraph report that ranked the country as third in the world in terms of consumption”.

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