If you think Cannabis culture in Nigeria isnt real, think again.
A United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) data released in 2017, suggests that 14.3% of Nigerians (27 million people) smoke cannabis.
Over the last two years, there has been a spotlight on cannabis consumption in Nigeria with a focus on these two areas - the possibility of decriminalization and the place of marijuana within the big picture of drug abuse in the country.
However, there has been little focus on the users, the millions of people who indulge in the pleasures of the herb.
Who are these people? Why do they smoke weed? Do they have jobs? What does it mean to be a marijuana user in a conservative country (where cannabis is still illegal?)
In an attempt to get to the other side of the conversation, Pulse speaks a self proclaimed weed connoisseur who simply goes by the name Samuel.
He handles the Twitter account @9jadealer with over 7,000 followers which he describes as a "comfortable platform for stoners, where they can meet, network and be open about benefits of getting stoned."
In this interview, Samuel speaks on when he started smoking marijuana and the cannabis culture in Nigeria.
*This interview has been edited and condensed
So let's start off with a bit of background info
I was born in the 90s to a Christ believing middle-class family in Lagos, personally, I am a freethinker. I am a BSc holder, I got my BSc from one of our federal universities in the southwest in 2013. Currently, I have a day job as a digital marketer and I work during my spare time as a cinematographer.
At what age did you start smoking weed?
I first smoked weed in 2010 and like most things I do, I did it out of sheer curiosity.
I have been reading and seeing a lot about weed and I wanted to know what it feels like. I read the positive and negative effects and realised that the negative effects are nothing I should be worried about.
ALSO READ: What does it mean to decriminalize weed?
How was it like? Describe the experience?
The first time I smoked the quantity was very small and the only thing that I could remember was that I felt joy. By joy, I mean that everything was funny, for that period I couldn’t be angry at anything, the only emotions I could let out was laughter and after a while I became hungry.
How many years have you been smoking weed?
I have been smoking weed for 8 years and I take a month’s tolerance break every year.
Out of all the categories of drugs, weed is the only one that has no artificial ingredient in it. It is basically a plant that is grown on a farm to perfection; the only ingredients to create weed are soil, weed seed, water, manure and sunlight.
Apart from stimulants and cannabinoids every other category of drug is legal and can be easily gotten over the counter, the reason why I mentioned all this is because I said I take a month’s tolerance break every year.
A tolerance break is basically a time when you deliberately stop the use of marijuana for any reason that is known to you. I take my tolerance break to assert to myself that I can function 100% without the use of marijuana.
When did you realize that you were a marijuana connoisseur?
Right from when I first smoked weed, I realised that I have always being involved majorly with people that marijuana users. I have lived in different states in the country and I am always completely involved in the marijuana community wherever I live in. I have never been secretive about my marijuana use and I take diligent care of all my personal responsibilities.
I created the platform @9jadealer so that other users can interact and network, it’s so painful how an alcoholic can purchase alcohol anywhere, drink it and become an accepted nuisance in the community.
It’s also painful how you can purchase and smoke cigarette anywhere, mind you daily use of cigarette has been linked to liver, colon, rectum, lung, oral cavity, throat and numerous types of cancers but it is legal for use and purchase everywhere in the country.
Marijuana has been linked severally to help reduce the size of cancerous tumours, it also helps cancer patients that are going through chemotherapy to reduce the pain and increase their appetite.
How will a plant with uncountable amounts of benefits be deemed illegal and hard to find, why should marijuana be only talked about in secret?
My platform is for users to know that they are not crazy, they are part of the ones that have seen the light and are not scared to go towards it.
What is a marijuana connoisseur in the first place?
A connoisseur is an expert in matters of taste, so a marijuana connoisseur would be an expert in use, taste and strains of marijuana.
So, you hook people to plugs (people who sell weed)? Please explain that?
Unlike alcohol and cigarettes where you can get to an unfamiliar environment and just go to a store to purchase them, for weed you must be discreet and extremely smart about it. We blur the line between users and sellers.
Who asks for plugs more, men or women?
Marijuana use from male to female is 60% to 40%.
Do you think weed is ever going to be legal in Nigeria?
Nigeria has too many basic problems that have not been solved yet and it would only take a revolutionary leader to consider legal growing and sales of marijuana.
The country is riddled with problems in every sector, we are battling the non-ending inflation in the prices of food, we have the issue of our archaic education system, more than 70% of the roads in the country are not tarred, our health sector is non-existent that’s why leaders of the country have to fly abroad to get medical attention, even though we pay every month for electricity we are still far from having stable electricity, we have serious problems with infrastructure, the north looks like a war zone and we are battling serious ethnic bigotry and religious extremism.
Nigeria has a lot of fixing to do and I can assure you that no leader now is ready to listen to anything concerning legalization of marijuana. Like I said only a revolutionary leader can consider growing and sales of marijuana but the country has a way of making sure that revolutionary people don’t become leaders of the county.
Do we have weed accessory stores in Nigeria?
We have lots of tobacco accessory companies in Nigeria, they are all legally registered companies because tobacco is a legal substance all around the world and the same accessories used in preparing and using tobacco are the same accessories that are used for marijuana, so it’s a win- win situation.
How would you describe the marijuana culture in Nigeria?
The marijuana culture in Nigeria has always been alive but very silent.
In the 80s Fela increased the awareness of marijuana through his music and lifestyle but compared to now, we are in the world of digital systems where information gets to you immediately they are created. Marijuana use increased seriously after mobile phones and the internet was introduced to our community.
Everyone knows someone that smokes marijuana and users range from medical doctors to lawyers, traders, students, artists and basically anyone that is interested in getting to a point in their mind that they never knew existed.
Marijuana use is not limited to a class, everyone uses it from the extremely poor people to the richest people in the country, it’s one of the few substances that creates immediate agreement and bond between strangers.
People forget about class, religion, ethnic group, educational level, sexual orientation and everything else when it comes to using weed.
Even though marijuana is illegal in Nigeria the weed community has been growing exponentially every year and it would continue growing.
How much marijuana do you smoke in a day?
I smoke 2 high-grade joints per day, one in the morning and one in the evening.
Have you been judged wrongly because you are a marijuana connoisseur?
Of course, the older generation doesn’t understand why the younger generation likes marijuana so they happily relate anything that happens to you to marijuana use.
I don’t mind anyway because I believe that anything you are not involved in and anything you choose not to be informed about; you would always have a wrong perception of it.
I just want the public to stop the stigmatization of marijuana users, we are highly intelligent people that cherish being in tune with depth in our minds that cannot be reached without a little help.