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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Has "weed" been legalized in Nigeria?




Caleb Ijioma

The intake of "weed" in Nigeria is now becoming rampant than ever. One can conclude that "weed" has been unofficially legalized in the country and everybody Not withstanding the gender, age can participate in this activity.

Cannabis, in which a large number of Nigerians know as "weed" is a mix of dried, shredded leaves and flowers from the marijuana plant. It is often green, brown, or gray. People have developed different ways to take in this leaves for pleasure. They either roll marijuana up and smoke it like a cigarette, mix it in food and eat it, amongst many other methods. This however cause dizziness, happiness, fear, change in the human senses and can even lead to hallucinations.

In a 2017 report filed by Telegraph.co.uk(  a national British daily broadsheet newspaper published in London by Telegraph Media Group) Nigeria was on the number 3 on the  chart of the 30 world biggest smoking countries.
In January, 2019, a survey led by Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the Center for Research and Information on Substance Abuse with technical support from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and funding from the European Union, shows that Over the past year alone, nearly 15% of the adult population in Nigeria (around 14.3 million people) reported  a “considerable level” of use of psychoactive drug substances—it’s a rate much higher than the 2016 global average of 5.6% among adults. It also reports that the highest levels of drug used was recorded among people aged between 25 to 39, with cannabis being the most widely used drug.

The rate by which canabis is consumed is becoming very high. The Ministerial Committee on Drug Policy. (2007);National Drug Policy 2007–2012 has it that Nigeria is ranked world 8th highest consumer of cannabis. This plant is widely grown across the States of Nigeria, including Ondo State, Edo State, Delta State, Osun State, Oyo State and Ogun State.

Even though smoking of "weed" in Nigeria has been tagged illegal, this activity is still usually done in the broad day Light without fear of arrest. According to the National drug law enforcement agency, the possession of cannabis is illegal and is punishable by a minimum sentence of 12 years in prison. In serious trafficking cases, life imprisonment may be imposed.

Are we really checking this laws? Has these laws been abandoned? Do we have a country that forgets its laws as the years progresses? If not, why is the numbers of cannabis users increasing?
Youths, children are now taking the lead role in "weed" consumption.

 Cannabis smoking is a serious public health problem among adolescents in various environments.Its medico-social effects could ruin the life and future of our youths. The consumption of cannabis have ganied a stand in our environment because of easy access, the availability and peer pressure, this is reaching a dangerous dimension.

 This does not only have an adverse effect in the lives of our youths but the country at large.
Students of higher learning even engage in this act. It has now become a normal tradition to trade and consume "weed" in the school environment.  Pathetic I must say, ignorantly killing themselves for pleasure. This can have a long lasting effect in their life, not only their physical wellbeing but also  academic life.

I am not saying that cannabis have no good effect, infact, the exportation of cannabis can be a source of income to our country. A former presidential aspirant, Omoyele Sowore in the month of may proposed that cannabis should be extracted and exported,he was also of the opinion that it can aid the growth of hairs.

However, if cannabis has been made legal, it should be binded by strict laws. License should be given to only few people and punishment served to anybody who have no license to sell. But I ask again, has it been made lagal? Can we now consume cannabis freely?

Howbeit, the widespread of "weed" consumption can be traced to unemployment, the availability of the product, it's easy accessible nature, peer pressure,amongst many other reasons.

In conclusion, I suggest that the Government takes punitive measures in other to curb the widespread of cannabis consumption, enforce  laws and penalties, create more awareness on the effects of drugs and substance abuse.

The future of our great country is at stake because citizen's are participating in an act that could turn them to "mad people" overnight. Jokingly, we don't want to have the increase of mental affected citizens. In other to avoid this, the Government and all government agencies need to participate in the fight against cannabis consumption.



Caleb Ijioma is the managing director of Roundnews media, a freelance journalist and a youth advocate. He can best be reached at calebijioma@gmail.com.

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