The International Society of Substance Use Prevention and Treatment Professionals (ISSUP) Nigeria chapter has taken a strong stance against the bill seeking to legalize cannabis in Nigeria. According to ISSUP’s President, Dr. Martin Agwogie, this is not the right time to contemplate such a move. ISSUP also commended the House of Representatives for stepping down the bill, describing it as a welcome development in the best interest of public health in Nigeria.
The bill seeks to amend the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Act to allow for the cultivation of cannabis for recreational and medical use. It also seeks to give the NDLEA the power to grant and revoke licenses for the cultivation of it or any of its species. Additionally, the bill proposes to establish a system for the registration of cannabis growers and users, as well as a legal framework for the registration and licensing of its growers and producers in Nigeria.
However, Dr. Agwogie emphasized that Nigeria is currently in a drug crisis and that the legalization of cannabis should not be contemplated at this time. While there are medicinal and economic benefits that can be extracted from the cannabis plant, these are not without alternatives. Furthermore, the economic benefits should not override the health and social consequences of legalizing cannabis.
Dr. Agwogie called on the Federal Government to make all psychoactive substances, including cannabis plants, available for scientific purposes, continue with the drug use decriminalization process, and invest more in substance use prevention, treatment, and research. It is clear that the legalization of cannabis in Nigeria could have far-reaching consequences, and careful consideration is needed before any such move is made. The ISSUP Nigeria chapter hopes that the upper house will lend its voice to stepping down the consolidated bill and prioritize public health in Nigeria.