Nigeria sets to legalise Cannabis plant, as Ondo govt targets jobs for people

By: Ade Adeleke

There are plans that Nigeria will legalise cannabis plant for medicine, agro-economy, revenue generation and trade exchange.

This is the submission of the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Media & Public Affairs, Hon Benjamin Kalu while briefing newsmen virtually in Akure, the Ondo state capital on benefits and opportunities of cannabis plant in Nigeria.

The press conference is to sensitize public ahead of a two-day Stakeholder’s Roundtable Discussion on “the benefits and opportunities of Cannabis Plant and CBD Oil in Nigeria; Research, Legalization, License, Medicine, Agro-economy, Empowerment, IGR And Trade Exchange”, scheduled to hold on Monday 7 and Tuesday 8 June , 2021 and organised by the Ondo state government in conjunction with Culturepreneur Clusters Limited and other partners.

“Nigeria has been described as oil-dependent and not oil-rich. It is a worrying reality that we have not optimized the financial stability advantage that our oil reserves can provide us to diversify our collective investment and revenue sources.

“The coronavirus pandemic exposed our weaknesses when global oil prices plummeted by as much as 15%; even falling below $0 a barrel on 20 April 2020.

Indeed, our economy is still recovering from that shock. However, as the world increasingly shifts towards renewable energy and climate-friendly energy sources, global oil demand will further decrease. It is therefore clear that as a serious forward-thinking nation, we must now introspect.

“Industrial hemp is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant species
that is grown specifically for industrial use. Once harvested, the crop has a high yield of edible proteins and fibres with more than 50,000 product applications ranging from paper making, textiles, biodegradable plastics, fuel, construction, healthy food,
beverages, personal care products, and pharmaceuticals.

“According to verified market research, the Global Industrial Hemp Market was valued at USD 5 Billion in 2019 and is projected to reach USD 36 Billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 34% from 2019 to 2026.

“Currently, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and South Africa have legalised the growing of industrial hemp in Africa; and according to Prohibition Partners’ research, by 2023, just two years from now, the South African domestic market for cannabis and related products will be worth around USD 1.9 Billion.

“Fortunately, Nigeria has various advantages including affordable land, low-cost labour, and an experienced agricultural workforce. Nigeria is also positioned to benefit from a first-mover advantage in Africa.

“However, a major challenge to Nigeria’s entry into this lucrative economy is the fact that the farming, production, and use of Cannabis for medical and industrial use in Nigeria has not been legalized.

“To enable this process of legalization, I have presented before the House of Representatives, the Dangerous Drugs Act (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which when passed, will usher in a new era on medicinal cannabis from production processing and distribution.

“I expect that the exchanges that will ensue at the roundtable on June 7 and 8, 2021, will greatly optimize the deliberations of the National Assembly on the bill, as well as preparations by the executive arm of government to regulate the sector.

“Several countries have legalized medicinal and industrial hemp and other African countries are moving to do the same.

“The roundtable on June 7 and 8, 2021, is for the legislature, the executive, private sector, investors, scientists, medical and pharmaceutical professionals, farmers, insurance companies, and other stakeholders as there are implications for foreign investment, internally generated revenue, industrialization, employment and empowerment of our youth and women,” Hon Kalu said.

Also speaking, the Ondo state government through the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the state governor on Agric & Agricbusiness, Mr Akin Olotu, disclosed that the state as the largest producer of the cannabis plant, would engage people that would legally plant cannabis for economic, medical and empowerment benefits.

Olotu said the state government would be happy to be part of the initiative to boost the state’s economy.

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