NDLEA boss Marwa says legalising marijauna in Nigeria is a debate of money vs life

Marwa says legalisation of marijuana is a completely bad idea for a nation like Nigeria.

The manufacturing, distribution, and use of marijuana are banned in Nigeria (image used for illustrative purpose) [Christopher Furlong-Getty Images]

Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Buba Marwa, is strongly against the legalisation of marijuana in Nigeria for any reason, especially not for potential profit.

The manufacturing, distribution, and use of the psychoactive drug are completely banned in Nigeria, but Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State has repeatedly pushed for its legalisation, strictly for medical purposes.

The governor has anchored his position, among other things, on the concern that Nigeria is missing out on the huge revenue generated from marijuana in other parts of the world.

However, Marwa said in a media briefing on Thursday, October 21, 2021 that legalisation is a completely bad idea for a nation like Nigeria.

"Why is he the only governor in the country pushing the agenda?

"Definitely I agree with you, there's money for those people in those countries who have legalised it, but the issue that we must answer is whether we and them face the same situation," he said during his briefing at the Presidential Villa.

The retired Brigadier General said an estimated 10.6 million people in Nigeria are currently smoking cannabis, and cautioned that legalising is not in line with national interest.

The Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) last December removed marijuana and marijuana-related substances from Schedule IV of the 1961 Convention, which previously discouraged its use for medical purposes.

This action has been used as an argument by people that want the substance legalised in Nigeria, but Marwa noted that Nigeria was one of the 25 nations that voted against the removal (27 countries voted in favour).

He said, "Nigeria voted against it because of national interest because you have to look: is it money or is it life? We have to be very clear.

"By the time you legalise cannabis, everybody will be smoking it, the money you're expecting you'll be building rehab centres with it to treat addicts."

The NDLEA boss further noted that marijuana remains on Schedule I of the 1961 Convention, rendering it still subject to all levels of control of the convention.

He said the argument that NDLEA can control the substance if legalised is insufficient, citing the ongoing failure to control tramadol distribution in the country as a note of caution.

"We're unable and we'll be unable (to effectively regulate). It's very important to be very clear that the NDLEA will never support the use of cannabis.

"It's almost a 419 situation to raise money, and we can't take the risk with 10.6 million already," he said.

Marwa had during another part of his briefing repeated his caution that illicit substances are fueling Nigeria's security challenges as they're widely used by criminals.

He concluded by saying there's no conclusive scientific evidence that marijuana is indeed useful for medicinal purposes.

The potential medicinal properties of the substance has been an issue of contention between experts for decades.

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