Like the coronavirus, the urge to legalize marijuana has recently escalated throughout the World as countries like Canada, the UK, and Morroco recently decriminalized either the usage or growing of cannabis.
At the height of the pandemic is the White house’s decision to pardon all prior federal offenders charged with “simple marijuana possession.” Three days after, the Nigerian National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) held a Twitter space which was tagged Cannabis: Health or wealth. Although the title did not expressly suggest the legalization of marijuana, it was in the undertone.
In the opening, Femi Babafemi, the agency spokesman who anchored the Twitter spaces confirmed the invitation of Omoyele Sowore, Dr Lola Ohanba, a pharmacist, Kemi Olunloyo and other relevant experts.
The reason the agency did not invite the presidential candidates of the Labour Party, Peter Obi; Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar; and the All Progressive congress, Bola Tinubu and chose to invite the African Action Congress Omoyele Sowore is not far fetched: the latter has pioneered the campaign on the economic benefit of the cannabis plant to authorities acclaimed broke Nigeria.
Two tents were pitched at the stage of the debate: while the NDLEA advance adverse social effects, Sowore pushed for the economic benefit. Mr. Babafemi argued that increased crime was drug-fueled, underlying cannabis consumption as a factor for the widespread insurgency Nigeria currently witnesses. “Some of these kidnappers, insurgents, and terrorists, when their hideouts are raided, we see traces of these drugs in their den. And when they are kept for a while without the drugs, they start showing symptoms of withdrawal which means that this drug is a major catalyst to their activities,” the agency spokesperson said.
On the other side, Sowore identified the potential advantages of cannabis commercialization on the dying Nigerian economy, while he counted the series of derivatives the plant offered: “I even recently heard of bricks made from these very resourceful plants,” he said.
“Our position is that we want to contribute to the global $3 billion dollar industry. It is beyond exportation. We want to own the value chain and create a diverse source of revenue from the substance. We want to boot our pharmaceutical research and our clothing and textile industry,” Sowore added.
kemi Olunloyo, a guest speaker, laid in between the disadvantage and the advantage of the drug, leaning her support closer to the former. She said that Canada was regretting the legalization of cannabis already. Italy, she mentioned did not because of the adverse effect legalize consumption of marijuana. However, contrary to her claim, findings show that Italy is amongst the 27 states where according to thrillist.com, Cannabis possession is decriminalized.
Sowore has been advancing the debate for decriminalization of the drug half-decade before the Nigerian drug law enforcement agency finally opened the floor for a debate on the subject matter.