Reactions trail lawmaker’s call to legalise ‘Indian hemp’

Hon. Benjamin Kalu

Reactions have continued to trail the call by a member of the House of Representatives, Rep. Benjamin Kalu, urging Nigeria to legalise the growing of cannabis sativa, also known as Indian hemp, for its economic benefits.

The spokesman of the House made the call in an interview with newsmen in Akure, the Ondo State capital, on Monday.

Kalu said that many countries have legalised cannabis for industrial purpose, adding that Nigeria should emulate such.

He said that a legalising the product would remove the major challenge to Nigeria’s entry into the cannabis business of its farming, production and use for medical and industrial purpose.

However, those who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Abuja, said that the country must look at the consequences of legalising Indian hemp.

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Mr Emmanuel Onwubiko, Executive Director, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) said that legalising cannabis for economic reasons may lead to crime surge.

Onwubiko, however, said that the laws could be reviewed to legalise cannabis, specifically for medical reasons.

“The legal issues around it can be reviewed in such a way to allow for medical reasons because cannabis has a lot of medical advantages.

“But if it is done for economic purpose, we also look at the issues of crime, if you allow everybody to have access to cannabis, it is going to lead to unprecedented crime surge.

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“If you look at the security point of view, it is not the best of time to talk about legalising cannabis,’’ Onwubiko said.

Dr Nnamdi Erondu, President, Association of Resident Doctors, Abia State University Teaching Hospital (ABSUTH), advocated the use of cannabis for medical purpose.

“There are so many pharmaceutical companies that buy cannabis oil as it is used in virtually all medications and tablets.

“Many of the companies go outside to import this oil, so legalising it means we are looking beyond smoking.

“The percentage being smoked here is less than 10 per cent of cannabis produced abroad; you cannot smoke it all.

“So, legalising it is more like domesticating more industries in the country. It is just like we having crude oil and not issuing licenses to refine the crude oil.

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“So, we shouldn’t look at the bad effects alone; we compare the risks and the benefits. That some people smoke weed shouldn’t be a reason for throwing away cannabis.

“The effect of the cannabis is more constituted in the oil,’’ Erondu said.

Mr Gboyega Onadiran, a journalist in Abuja, said that the adverse effect of legalising cannabis would outweigh the economic benefits.

According to him, Nigeria is not ripe to legalise it.

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“This will increase drug abuse and in turn promote social vices particularly among youths,’’ Onadiran said. (NAN)


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