Nigeria is showing strong signs that it might soon loosen its strict anti-marijuana laws. According to some observers from the UN, these developments were the result of several African countries relaxing their regulations against the substance.
Just last year, Lesotho became the first country in Africa to legalize cannabis.
Ghana, Swaziland, and Malawi are also planning to join the ranks of the African nations that will regulate the substance and authorize the licenses for the cultivation and sale of the plant.
Zimbabwe is also speeding up the process that will fast-track the creation of the law which will legalize marijuana. This was after the officials from Zimbabwe were approached by a Canadian company asking them for a license to cultivate and import cannabis from the country.
These African countries figured out that legalizing marijuana was much more profitable and a way smarter move than just letting the exchange in illicit underground transactions take all the profits from the promising industry.
United Nation’s approval on the usage of marijuana for medical purposes prompted Nigeria to legalize it with the same intent.
Harsheth Kaur Virk, representative of Nigeria in the UN Office on Drugs and Crime publicized this information in a single day public discussion officiated by the Senate Committee on Drugs, Narcotics, and Health.
Virk, also a Project Officer for the same office in the UN, also added that the legalization can create a positive effect on the Nigerian youth who are reported to abuse pharmaceutical drugs.
According to the Nigerian Project Officer, individuals who abuse not only marijuana but addictive drugs as well should not be incarcerated, rather, they should be put into rehabilitation.
UN believes that the users of addictive substances are not ill, instead, they are individuals who need to be treated, cared for, and rehabilitated.
Virk also noted that UN does not oppose and is not against the prohibition and incarceration of traffickers of illegal substances as it is the case worldwide.
She, however, confronted the country’s security agency in that meeting, especially the law enforcement body. She said that their approach should be proactive rather than reactive when facing suspected individuals.
Femi Oloruntoba, ambassador of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and the Director of Technical Services of the organization, informed the board that it is the drug peddlers and traffickers who are considered as outlaws in Nigeria, not those who just use it.
Another attendee to the hearing was Professor Martins Emeje, sent by the Director General of National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD). Emeje declared that it was the industry, legislators included, who should be accused of creating the drug abuse issue in Nigeria.
“If the truth must be told, the problem of pharmaceutical substances abuse in the country is caused by the executive, the legislature, and the various regulatory agencies including the research institute I represent here,” Emeje said in his speech
The professor complained that their research institute lacked funding and was never given that much importance by the consecutive administrations of Nigeria.
He said that if it was not the case, they could have done something to battle the abuse of illegal and fake drugs in the country.
Emeje further gave solid examples as he mentioned last year’s mishaps where out of the ₦47 million they asked for the study, ₦20 million was appropriated but was not delivered to them.
When the crowd asked on how much was needed by their organization for the study and research for a drug that can be made locally to battle nasal congestion, HIV/AIDS, malaria, and fungal infection, Professor Emeje stupefied them with a whooping ₦1.2 billion.
Some stakeholders who were also present at the event and gave their insights where Pharm Ahmed Yakasai who was assigned by the Minister of Health, Pharm Ahmed Yakasai the President of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, and Pharm Zainab Sheriff.