Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo state has placed a ban on the sale and smoking of cannabis otherwise known as Indian Hemp in the state.
Okorocha made the announcement during the annual Nigerian army west Africa social activities programme.
”I will like to announce to you that we have abolished the sales and smoking of Indian hemp and other illicit hard drugs in the state, this has made our youths useless and led them to crime and all other related criminal offences," he said.
The governor further said to further enforce the ban by his government, the Nigerian army and other security agencies should join hands to eradicate sale or smoking of Indian hemp as well as other illicit hard drugs in the state.
"I want to use this medium to appeal to all security operatives in the state especially the army to help enforce these directives so we can help our youths,” Okorocha said.
Okorocha expresses dislike for Indian hemp smokers
On January 28, 2018, Governor Okorocha, in a video released online, said he said that armed robbers are better than people who smoke and sell weed.
He said “You all know what the law says about Marijuana(weed)? Weed has killed my Children in Imo state. Anybody selling weed or consuming it, that person’s house will be demolished.
“Where we are now, it is better for someone to be an Armed Robber than to Smoke weed,” Okorocha further said.
OBJ calls for decriminalization of marijuana
In January 2018, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is the chairman of the West Africa Drugs Commission, recently called for the decriminalization of marijuana.
The former President also suggested that counselling should be adopted.
While speaking with BBC Newsday, Obasanjo, who is the chairman of the West Africa Drugs Commission and a signatory to the report said:
“It is essentially a call for what we call decriminalization. If a young man tries to experiment with a wrap of marijuana for instance & because of that we put him in jail" he said.
“I was in prison as a political prisoner & I interacted with these people, some of them just for being caught with a wrap of Marijuana, they’re put in jail. They came out of jail more hardened, more hardened criminals than when they went in. Whereas, if they have been treated as they should be treated & if they need attention, they’ll be given attention.
“They will be looked after, given a clean needle like it’s been done in some parts of Africa already. Harm reduction & safe places where they can listen to people, they can get attention, they can get counsel. This is the sort of thing we are talking about." further said Obasanjo.
Legalization of marijuana in Africa
Lesotho recently became the first African country to grant a marijuana license it announced in September 2017.
This move makes sense for Lesotho which has a population of just 2 million people. It is landlocked and surrounded by its more famous neighbour South Africa.
Cannabis is the main cash crop of Lesotho. It's climate and vegetation create the perfect conditions for the growth of cannabis. As a matter of fact, most of the marijuana in South Africa is gotten from Lesotho.
This move by Lesotho signals the growth of marijuana in Africa. A decade ago, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released a report on "Cannabis In Africa".
In the report, 38 million Africans within the ages of 18-64 use marijuana. This number would have surely increased by 2017.
What is the decriminalization of marijuana?
If marijuana is decriminalised, it would mean relaxing or entirely lifting the heavy sanctions placed on the use of the drug by our nation's laws.
This would mean that a bill for change the existing drug laws would go through the National Assembly. Among the provisions that would be made, it would need to outline that drug use and cultivation is certain circumstances would be allowed.