By Evelyn Usman
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA says that it has not granted approval to any individual or corporate body to cultivate or produce medical cannabis oil and powder in Nigeria.
Its clarification is coming on the heels of news making the round that it recently granted a Nigerian senator license for a multi-billion naira investment in the cultivation and production of medical cannabis.
Spokesman for the anti-narcotic agency, Jonah Achema, who made the clarification, described the report on social media as twisted , noting, however, that the agency had been approached by several organizations with proposals for the development of cannabis industry in Nigeria for medicinal oil and industrial purposes.
This he said, was as a result of the significance of medicinal cannabis for medical and wellness purposes, which according to him, had dominated global discourse in recent years.
Giving the agency’s position on the clamour for its approval of license for the cultivation and production of medical cannabis, Achema said, “ in line with the mandate of the Agency under the enabling Act, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act Cap N30 LFN 2014 which include the facilitation of Rapid exchange of scientific and technical information and the conduct of research geared towards eradication of illicit use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, the Agency gave a letter of “No Objection” to Medis Oil Company Limited and two others to import Seeds of industrial cannabis for research purposes. The letter of “No Objection” must be with the concurrent approval of relevant government agencies needed to import Seeds into Nigeria.
“ Under Article 3 paragraph 5 of the 1961 Single Convention, it is envisaged that as a result of research, a drug may be deleted from schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention if researches reveal its therapeutic advantages. Cannabis plant or its resin or extract with THC content lower than 1 % is considered as CBD (medical) cannabis and not psychoactive. The WHO proposes 0.2 % THC content cannabis as maximum that should not be internationally controlled.
“For Nigeria, we currently lack the capacity and expertise to properly police and enforce that only cannabis of 0.2 % THC is grown in the country. The resources to distinguish between cannabis farm of 0.2 % THC and below internationally approved and those above 0.2 % THC is not available to law enforcement agencies in the country.
“The Agency will act in the interest of the nation on this issue and will thread softly to ensure that approval to cultivate medicinal Cannabis passes through all legal and procedural requirements. Applicants are therefore advised to abide by the conditions laid down by NDLEA and other relevant government agencies”.