Time Not Ripe for Cannabis Legalisation in Nigeria — ISSUP

By Sunny A. Ijomah

The International Society of Substance Use Prevention and Treatment Professionals, ISSUP, Nigeria Chapter, has kicked against the bill to legalize cannabis in Nigeria, saying it is not the right time to contemplate such move.

This is just as it also commended the House of Representatives for stepping down the bill, describing it as a welcome development in the best interest of public health in Nigeria.

President of ISSUP, Dr. Martin Agwogie, who gave the assertion in a statement issued in Lagos, called on the upper house to also lend its voice to stepping down the consolidated bill sponsored by Miriam Onuoha (APC, Imo); Benjamin Kalu (APC, Abia); and Olumide Osoba (APC, Ogun).

The bill seeks to amend the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA Act, to allow the cultivation of cannabis for recreational and medical use.

It also seeks to confer the NDLEA the power to grant and revoke licenses for the cultivation of cannabis or any of its species; establish a system for registration of cannabis growers and users, as well as to set a legal framework for the registration and licensing of cannabis growers and producers in Nigeria.

Kicking against the bill, Dr. Agwogie, said, ‘Nigeria is in a drug crisis that legalization of cannabis should not be contemplated now. There are medicinal and economic values that can be extracted from the cannabis plant, but these are not without alternatives. Moreover, the economic benefits should not override the health and social consequences.’

He therefore called on the Federal Government to make all psychoactive substances, including cannabis plants, ‘which are available for scientific purposes’, continue with the drug use decriminalization process and invest more in substance use prevention, treatment and research.