The Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, has urged the Muhammadu Buhari-led government to jettison traditional orientation that states that cannabis is a “devil’s plant”.
Speaking at a Stakeholders’ Roundtable on the “Benefits and Opportunities of Cannabis Plant in Nigeria” held at the International Culture and Event Center, “The Dome”, Akure, Akeredolu asked the Nigerian government to set up legal machineries in motion to enable its use in Nigeria, saying “cannabis is a multi-billion naira industry that can help diversify the Nigerian Economy if judiciously utilised.”
The governor called on the two chambers of the National Assembly to exhibit courage by amending the NDLEA Act that prohibits the consumption of cannabis in Nigeria.
He said, “The planet earth has a constant period of darkness and light every 24 hours which we call night and day, in like manner, just like every other crop or plant, Cannabis Sativa has both CBD and THC content which we can put it to good and bad use.
“Products with extract of Cannabis Sativa are already in our pharmaceutical sales outlets across the country. They are being imported with foreign exchange, and sold at exorbitant prices with additional, but avoidable stress on our naira,” he said.
The governor stated that during his first term, he and other members of his cabinets made a trip to Thailand to understudy the legal reform carried out to facilitate the decriminalisation of the cultivation, processing and export of Cannabis Sativa which gave him the opportunity to know the immense benefits that come along from a controlled cultivation of the plant.
“My visit to Thailand was an eye-opener. We saw forest reserve used in the past to cultivate and process hard drugs transformed to be meaningfully utilised in an environmentally-friendly way for healthy ventures. We saw people previously sold to hard drugs engaged in legitimate business ventures.
“What we are therefore advocating for in Nigeria is simply a controlled cultivation of pharmaceutical standard cannabis strictly for medical purpose. I am saying necessary laws must be amended to give room for it. I am not saying it should be a free-for-all venture. Those investing in it must be licensed under strict control.
“We must find a way to legalise the cultivation of cannabis for medicinal purposes. There is nothing wrong about it. We are only shooting ourselves in the foot. It is a foreign exchange earner for people outside the country. People want this. We ourselves, even our pharmacies want to develop,” he said.
Akeredolu further revealed that Ondo state has one of the best cannabis in the world which is capable of creating a huge industry for the country.
He explained that in 2019, the global market of cannabis was put at $52.8 billion and that the market forecast is an average 14.5% increase from year 2020 to reach $103.9 billion by 2024.
He urged members of the National Assembly, NDLEA, the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria and Research Institutions to have a second and deeper thought on the issue as it holds a great potential in solving the current economic woes in the country.
The chief panelist at the roundtable, Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu, member representing Bende Federal Constituency who doubles as the spokesperson for the House of Representative, agreed with Akeredolu, stating that it has become imperative for Nigeria to review the legislation prohibiting the farming and production of cannabis for medicinal and industrial use in Nigeria.
In the build-up to the 2019 presidential poll, Omoyele Sowore, candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), had said Nigeria will export marijuana if he gets elected as president of the country.
He argued that people were making billions of dollars from the plant while Nigeria was lagging behind.
“We have to start taking care of our weed (Igbo), such that we can also contribute to the GDP of the world,” he had said.
“Some of the best weeds in the world are grown in Ekiti state. I’m very serious. People are making billions out of that particular plant that is very potent in Nigeria. We should be focusing on it.
“Our NDLEA (National Drug Law Enforcement Agency) should get the notice, memo in advance that Nigeria will be exporting weed to cure cancer in other parts of the world.”
In November 2018, most stores in Canada were reportedly struggling to meet the demand for cannabis, two weeks after the Canadian government approved it for recreational use.