Cannabis Legalization: Akeredolu’s drive for a viable Economic Alternative

Amudipe Marcus

As the need arise for African Countries to diversify their various economy to fully address the growing economic challenge poised by the recent Covid-19 Pandemic, the ever growing market value of Cannabis on the international market might just provide the much needed financial breakthrough.

More than 10,000 tons of cannabis are produced on the continent each year, according to a UN survey, it is believed that the substance could be worth billions of dollars in a rapidly expanding global market for legal weed

African countries such as Malawi, Lesotho, Ghana, South-Africa, Morocco and Zimbabwe have already legalized Cannabis in their respective countries making it possible for them to tap into the numerous economic benefits that comes with it.

This may have inspired the move by the incumbent Governor of Ondo State, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu SAN who first made the move early 2019 to see to the legalization of the substance so that the nation at large could benefit from it ever increasing growing market.

Marijuana is a flowering plant, once indigenous to Central Asia, whose buds contain over 480 compounds and cannabinoids, among which is Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC as it is popularly called, the primary psychoactive constituent, which produces the stoned or high effects responsible for the plant’s infamous, notorious and misconceived reputation.

The plant’s economic potential cannot be overlooked. According to a recent release from Bloomberg, by applying the plant for recreational and medical purposes, the market would be worth US$90.4bn by 2026. Apart from its medicinal properties, the plant can also be used for making fabric, rope and paper which can be a major source of foreign exchange for the country and also create employment opportunities.

Currently, the planting, harvesting, and consumption of cannabis (popularly known as Indian Hemp) according to the Dangerous Drugs Act (DDA), 1935 and Indian Hemp Act (IHA), 1966 is not allowed in Nigeria. The ban exists despite the growing commercial importance of cannabis globally.

However as the demand for medical marijuana products surges worldwide and states look to diversify their income streams, other African countries should follow Zimbabwe’s lead. Africa could reap enormous economic benefits from cannabis but only if it goes further in legalization

In East Africa, Uganda is also home to lucrative cannabis industry. The sector worth an estimated $3 billion is expected to benefit the country by creating jobs, generating taxes, and encouraging foreign direct investment and a trade surplus.

For all the talk of Marijuana being dangerous to the health, alcohol, and tobacco have been legal for decades, with both being known causes of diseases ranging from lung cancer to kidney diseases. I mean it’s written in black and white on every cigarette pack produced, “Smokers are liable to die young”.

We acknowledge the concerns of many Nigerians around legalising the plant considering the potential for abuse and the inability of the law enforcement agencies to effectively regulate its use given the widespread corruption in many institutions. Also, the country has a growing population of unemployed youths who typically tend towards substance abuse. That said, we cannot overlook the economic potential the drug holds for the Nigerian agricultural sector. The cultivation and commercialization of the plant can potentially generate much needed foreign exchange earnings, create employment opportunities and contribute significantly to the growth of the economy.

The nation stand to get immense benefit in its agricultural sector, industrialization will definitely receive a massive boost as well rapid economic growth.

From Cannabis, we get products such as Fiber; this is a product that come from the post harvest and in order to process hemp into usable fiber for sale, it must be processed in specialized hemp. Hemp fiber is stronger and softer than cotton, lasts twice as long as cotton, and will not mildew. Hemp, therefore, in addition to its inexpensive cultivation, is also cheaper than cotton in the long run regarding its durability.

The average price of fiber is not constant, but somewhere around N300,000 per ton. Imagine the immense economical benefits we get from fiber alone.

Also the seeds has a similar market value as fiber though seeds are commonly measured in pounds rather than tons. An average price per pound of in the area of N400 on the average. This may sound like a very small number; however one can expect to harvest around 1,000 pounds of hemp seed per acre of hemp.

The Oil from hemp comes with a huge economic benefit, some of the medical benefits that comes from the Hemp oil are:

i. Pain Relief. Hemp seed oil’s anti-inflammatory properties help to reduce pain…

ii. Inflammation Reduction. Gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) present in hemp seed oil has been shown to reduce inflammation…

iii. Supports a Healthy Pregnancy.

A quick check on online market platforms in Nigeria revealed that a tiny bottle of Hemp oil is sold for nothing less than N30,000.

The nation stand to gain a lot from the legalization of Indian Hemp, we cannot afford to miss out on this as we have the much needed natural factor to aid the growth of this plant, we must ensure that we objectively see from the perspective of the Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu SAN and every other advocates of this commodity as the future of this nation depends on how well we make do of the various opportunities which comes our way

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