Chairman/Chief Executive of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Brig.-Gen. Buba Marwa (retd.), on Wednesday, warned the National Assembly not to legalise the use of cannabis, popularly known as hemp, in Nigeria.
Marwa said drug abuse, particularly among the youth, is one of the major factors contributing to the agitations and unrests in the country.
The NDLEA boss stated this in his goodwill message at the opening session of a three-day Special Summit on National Security organised by the House of Representatives.
The House had in January proposed legalisation of cultivation and trading in cannabis for medical and cosmetic use, research purposes as well as revenue generation for Nigeria.
This is being proposed in the Cannabis Control Bill 2020, sponsored by Miriam Onuoha, which is awaiting second reading.
The legislation is titled, ‘A Bill for an Act to Regulate the Cultivation, Possession, Availability and Trade of Cannabis for Medical and Research Use, and Related Purposes.’
Cannabis cultivation and sale are presently prohibited in the country.
If the bill becomes law, hospitals and doctors will be allowed to prescribe doses of cannabis for treatment of patients, while pharmacies and stores will be allowed to sell the drug.
But the proposed law sets conditions for the cultivation, buying, selling and consumption of the drug.
Marwa warned that the move would reverse the progress so far recorded in the fight against drug abuse, warning that the present figure of 10.6 million Nigerians abusing cannabis is already frightening and enough to sound the alarm bell.
He said in part, “Presently, there is no bigger national issue than the issue of insecurity in Nigeria. It is one of the big challenges, if not the biggest, threatening our dear country. Insecurity is today, a full-blown malady with many manifestations such as insurgency, banditry, kidnapping, murder, robbery, reprisal killing, name it.
“The persistence of the problem has forced on us the necessity to start to look at likely extraneous factors that might be sustaining the resistance from the criminal elements and in doing so, try to connect the dots. The permutations will lead to a list of probable causes, which will not exclude the use and abuse of illicit substances. In the final analysis, drug abuse is indeed one of the factors fuelling insecurity.
“The relationship between substance abuse and crime is a fact. What is clear is that no sane human being will rise against society to commit the kind of gross atrocities as we are witnessing in recent years, except such an individual has first hardened his heart with mind-altering substances. The use of drugs for perverted purposes is not a new phenomenon, neither is it something that just started in Nigeria. There are precedents in world history.”