A member of the House of Representatives, Hon Benjamin Okezie Kalu yesterday said a bill for the passage of a bill to legalize the use of cannabis for medical use has passed advance stage at the National Assembly.
The bill, known as ‘Dangerous Drugs Act (Amendment) Bill,2020’, when passed, the lawmaker, who is the Chairman of House of Representatives on Media and Publicity, said it would usher in a new era in medicinal cannabis from production processing and distribution.
Kalu, who addressed reporters in Akure, the Ondo State capital virtually, said the nation would get not less than $200 million from the cultivation, exportation and sale of cannabis on yearly basis and that cannabis is capable of replacing crude oil as the mainstay of the nation’s economy.
The lawmaker said the earnings from oil has reduced drastically and the effects of COVID-19 on the world economy has exposed Nigeria’s weaknesses as global oil prices plummeted by as much as 15 percent.
Kalu said Nigeria can no longer rely on crude oil as the only source of foreign income saying the shift to agriculture and renewable energy are some of the ways the country can benefit from global market.
According to him, it is clear that as a serious forwardthinking nation, Nigeria must look inward to other sources of foreign revenue. His words: “We must look inwards, to identify, optimize and exploit our areas of strength. “Agriculture has always been a major strength of Nigeria and cannabis provides interesting prospects.
“Industrial hemp is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant species that is grown specifically for industrial use. Once harvested, the crop has a high yield of edible proteins and fibres with more than 50,000 product applications ranging from paper making, textiles, biodegradable plastics, fuel, construction, healthy food, beverages, personal care products, and pharmaceuticals.”
According to him, the verified market research, the Global Industrial Hemp Market was valued at $5 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach $36 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 34 percent from 2019 to 2026.
He said by 2023, the value of Africa’s legal cannabis market could be worth over $7.1 billion as Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and South Africa have legalised the growing of industrial hemp in Africa. Kalu said Nigeria has various advantages including affordable land, low-cost labour, and an experienced agricultural workforce.
He said that Nigeria is positioned to benefit from a first-mover advantage in Africa as the Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations (UN) had voted to remove Cannabis from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and reclassified it as medicinal and therapeutic.
His words: “It has become imperative that as a country, we review the legislation prohibiting the farming and production of Cannabis for medical and industrial use, as it becomes obvious that industrial hemp is a viable prospect for our government’s economic diversification efforts.”