By Luminous Jannamike, ABUJA
An Islamic group, Muslim Rights Concern, MURIC, has rejected the move to legalise the use of cannabis in the country for economic benefit.
The organisation said that although there were material and economic gains obtainable from the legalisation of cannabis Sativa (also known as Indian hemp), it would not allow the Green Chamber to get away with yet another law that could impact negatively on insecurity and morality in the land.
MURIC’s Executive Director, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, made the position known in a statement entitled, “Don’t Legitimise Cannabis”, obtained by Vanguard in Abuja on Wednesday.
Recall that the spokesperson of the House of Representatives, Benjamin Kalu, on Monday said the National Assembly had concluded an arrangement to organize a two-day stakeholders roundtable on the benefits of the weed.
According to him, June 7th and 8th have been slated for the stakeholder forum, which will attract participants among scientists, medical and pharmaceutical professionals, farmers, insurance companies, executives, and private sector investors.
In addition, he contended that marijuana is medicine and that it would create jobs and boost Nigeria’s foreign exchange.
Reacting, MURIC said, “Nigeria is passing through unimaginable social trauma at this period. The crime rate is very high and it is mostly induced by drugs. Suicide is rising by the day and many cases have been traced to drugs.
“The major point raised by Benjamin Kalu has been an economic benefit, but what have the politicians done with all the billions of dollars from oil all these years?
‘What does Nigeria stand to gain if it makes billions of dollars from cannabis but destroys the country? You cannot sow the wind without reaping the whirlwind.
“We already have a large number of youths whose lives have been ruined by taking drugs even without legalising cannabis. What then should we expect if we eventually make it legal? Students, area boys, cultists will go haywire. Drug-related cases will increase in psychiatric hospitals.
“Cannabis may have its benefits, but the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. We, therefore, call on the House of Representatives to reject any attempt to smuggle the cannabis bill into the hallowed House. This House must not become the House of Marijuana. It must remain the House of reform, progress and dignity.”
The Muslim group also advised Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo state to drop his two-year advocacy for the legalisation of cannabis but rather pursue massive investment in food production.
“Our people are hungry. Our land is fertile. Give us yam, rice and cassava pyramids. No to drug addiction. No to “igbo” or marijuana,” Akintola added.
According to verified market research by a consultancy firm, Prohibition Partners, the Global Industrial Hemp Market, which was valued at $5b in 2019 and is projected to reach $36b by 2026.
Countries like Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and South Africa have legalised cannabis. By 2023, the value of Africa’s legal cannabis market could be worth over $7.1 billion.