14 March 2023 at 10:00:00
Almost as many Nigerians smoke cannabis as the combined populations of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, but the Abuja Government has ruled out any form of adult-use legalization and has recommitted itself to the “War Against Drugs”.
Nigeria has the highest cannabis smoking population in the world - an estimated 10,7% of Nigerians have consumed cannabis - that’s about 10,6 million people (total populations of Northern Ireland = 1,8 m, Scotland = 5,4 M and Wales = 3,1 m).
However, the Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, Prof. Christianah Adeyeye has ruled out adult-use legalization yet at the same time admitted that the country does not have the resources to filght illegal cultivation.
Speaking during the launch of the INCB Annual Report, Availability Supplement and Precursor Report for 2022 in Lagos on 12 March 2023, Prof Adeyeye said Nigeria would not support the trend of legalisation of cannabis for non-medical use as the country lacked the financial capacity to fight cultivation, production and illegal use of the substance.
Prof Adeyeye said the 2018 National Drug Use Survey revealed that cannabis was the most commonly used drug in Nigeria with an estimated 10.8 per cent of the population or 10.6 million people, using in the past year. She said the average age of initiation of cannabis use among the general population was 19 years and that cannabis use was seven times higher among men (18.8 per cent among men vs. 2.6 per cent of women). The gender gap in the non-medical use of pharmaceutical opioids (such as tramadol) was less marked.
While saying that the non-medical use of cannabis, contravenes the United Nations Single Convention of 1961, which classifies cannabis as a highly addictive substance, she said the Nigeria Indian Hemp Act as well as the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA Act prohibits the cultivation, production, distribution, sales and use of cannabis and its extracts or derivatives for medical or non-medical purposes.
“Consequently, Nigeria will not support the trend of legalization of cannabis for non-medical use as our country lacks the financial capacity to fight cultivation, production and illegal use of the substance” she said.
She said the NAFDAC, the NDLEA, the Nigeria Customs Service and other stakeholders in the health sector, had promised to collaborate in fighting against illicit drug production, trafficking, and use. She said narcotics and psychotropic substances are indispensable for the relief of pain and suffering, adding that they are, however, classified because of the potential for abuse and the need for medical use of the substance.
According to her, one of the control objectives is to ensure availability solely for medical and scientific uses while minimizing the possibility of diversion to illicit channels and abuse. Executive Chairman, NDLEA, Buba Marwa, decried the upsurge in abuse of cannabis amongst Nigerian youths, saying it has attendant negative effects on the society. He said the NDLEA conceptualized War Against Drug Abuse WADA in 2021 to address the issue.
The Comptroller-General of the NCS, Hameed Alli, pledged the loyalty and support of the customs service in the task of ridding the country of illicit drug.