It has certainly been a long war against cannabis since it was banned. Regardless of strict laws, world trade in cannabis has continued to thrive remarkably, driven primarily by both active supply and demand, which have effectively ensured a large inflow of cash that has proven to be the underlying incentive.
Instructively, a strong stigmatization campaign prompted its ban in America, which led to the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. Prior to that, it was unregulated and widely used for recreational and medical purposes with mixed stories of effectiveness.
However, Nigeria supported its war with laws such as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1935 and the Hemp Act of India of 1966, which prohibits the planting, harvesting and consumption of cannabis before the Act. of the Nigerian Drugs Act of 1989. This is also a signatory to the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and the 1988 United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances.
Essentially, the pattern of warfare has gone within the framework of existing laws, which often involve the confiscation of the substance, the burning of large tracts of farmland and confiscated shipments, and the detention / prosecution of barons and messengers. . Despite all the hassle, it has not prevented the large presence of players who are always witty and daring in the ecosystem.
Cannabis has a long medical history and only a resurgence is being recorded with validated efficacy. Cannabis has been shown to be of great therapeutic value to some 1.2 billion people suffering from various medical conditions. Its use is effective in controlling acute pain, suppressing arthritis and other anxieties. Interestingly, I watched a documentary not long ago that was revealing about the impact of cannabis on the treatment of autism with users talking impressively about the outcome.
The removal of cannabis from the dangerous drugs group, which included heroin and synthetic opioids, by the Narcotics Commission had significantly changed the narrative on cannabis, as many countries are struggling to introduce laws to accommodate to “green gold” and Africa is not intriguing. left out in a hurry. Lesotho is the first African country to do so for medical and scientific purposes, with the necessary license at a high cost.
The legalization of the psychotropic substance has made a transition from the issue of morality to trade / business, although the astonishing statistics of victims of cannabis use, the impact on society (especially youth) and its place as apart from the paraphernalia of crimes and conduct towards addiction to other hard drugs they make war a serious undertaking. This forms the argument against legalization, which can hardly be criticized: the base of addicts is bound to increase.
However, the revelation about cannabis and the global rush to get some of the opportunity it presents is big enough to recalibrate our thinking and our impression. Prohibition Partners, a research consulting firm in a 2019 report, estimated that the African cannabis business could earn up to $ 7.1 billion a year by 2023.
Undoubtedly, this is a guarantee that a prospect of opportunity will come from a regulated cannabis industry: job and wealth creation, economic diversification, and improved foreign exchange earnings. Like cannabis, the ban on alcohol in America had social and health problems as its driving force. Also, singularly important was the need for more tax revenue, especially during the Great Depression when the legalization of the sale of alcohol was seen as a real source. In fact, Franklin Roosevelt vowed to lift the alcohol ban he complied with.
The approach to seizing the opportunity should be adapted to medical purposes, which will favor the establishment of processing and export industries of cannabis-based products or raw materials supported by a strict regulatory and legal framework. So the country has no shortage of entrepreneurs willing to take the plunge. Large revenues would be achieved with the issuance of licenses and taxes from the industry.
This will in no way obscure the NDLEA’s place, but will be streamlined to reflect the new reality and further strengthen its weapons to better play the role of oversight, monitoring and regulation in the industry. Again, the whole cannabis argument is still mainly for its medical and scientific uses.
As previously announced, many African countries have got on the bandwagon and many have also tied their heads in preparation for a trade opportunity, while Nigeria remains uncompromising despite strong calls for a change in attitude towards cannabis.
It is still a growing industry that may have been informed of the indifference of the authorities. In any case, it is necessary to keep alive debates for a rich knowledge on the subject to drive a rethink. With abundant land, experienced farmers and decent farming conditions, Nigeria may be on its way to becoming a major player with a rich economic harvest.
• Abachi Ungbo writes via [email protected]