Chairman of the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (retd), has warned Federal lawmakers not to support any decision to legalise cannabis sativa, popularly known as Indian hemp.
His outcry contradicts a case made in favour of Indian hemp by the Ondo State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, at a forum in Abeokuta, Ogun State, on Thursday.
Marwa sounded his note of warning to the National Assembly members while speaking with State House correspondents after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Friday.
He said the World Health Organisation had confirmed the danger posed by cannabis to the brain, adding that Nigeria is the highest consumer of substance.
The NDLEA boss, however, expressed optimism that cannabis would not be legalised.
Marwa said, “Now, the World Health Organisation itself has declared cannabis affects the brain, alters brain function. It destabilises, affects behaviour. It also affects body organs, and at some point, it can lead to death.
“So, while we appreciate those who want to localise it for financial gains, we have to be careful to reconcile it with life. So, it’s money versus life. And up to this point, science has not developed up to the point where it can remove the THC in cannabis to zero.
“Therefore, cannabis is harmful to our health, it is a danger to society. We must never allow its legalisation. What’s more, Nigeria has 10.6 million cannabis users, this is the highest in the world. Isn’t it sad?
“We should be the highest in science, technology, mathematics, physics, and stuff that were looked at as highest in cannabis. That is something we need.
“We can never support legalisation and I don’t see how the National Assembly would pass the Act because I know 90 per cent or more of the honourable and distinguished members of the National Assembly know the implications of this legalisation and they dare not go back to their constituencies if anyone signs legalisation because we’re seeing the implication on the ground. The youths, the families are being destroyed because of cannabis and drugs. It wouldn’t be legalised by the grace of God.”
Meanwhile, Governor Akeredolu had, at the Abeokuta forum, restated his belief that the outlawed weed, is beneficial to the human body.
Akeredolu also on the occasion charged pharmacists in the country to conduct in-depth research into the various uses of the weed, for medicinal purposes.
The governor stated these at the 40th anniversary and the 2021 Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria National Scientific Conference, held in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital.
Akeredolu was the Special Guest of Honour at the event.
He said since pharmacists had been working on herbs, more in-depth research into cannabis for medicinal purposes should also be embarked upon, as it is “one of the pathways to control its cultivation”.
He also said, “In Ogbese (a community in Ondo State), we can have a farm where NDLEA (National Drug Law Enforcement Agency) will be in charge. Nobody can take it out to smoke. From there, it gets to you for medicinal purposes.
“Pharmacists have been working on herbs, you can research on this too. It is one of the pathways to the controlled cultivation. We should not be left behind. We have started to champion the issue of red oil that has to do with palm. We will champion the green oil too in Ondo State.
“We are looking to pathway of cultivation of cannabis for medicinal purposes. It can be achieved. I have visited Thailand with the then chairman of the NDLEA. We were at all the important institutions. We went through all the processes of cultivating it for medicinal purposes. We saw it by ourselves.”
Earlier, one of the speakers at the event, a pharmacist, Mr. Nonso Maduka, said there was the need for Nigeria to allow a pilot situation, considering the fact that cannabis still has industrial and export value.