The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) on Wednesday defended the criminalisation of marijuana use in Nigeria as opposed to several other countries such as the US, UK, and Canada.
The Secretary, NDLEA, Shadrack Haruna, Saïd on Wednesday that there was “a lot of misconception” about decriminalising the use of drugs.
“You travel to Canada, you travel anywhere, and you say, ‘They’ve decriminalised marijuana or cannabis and we’re using it,’” he said.
“But of course, you have different species of marijuana and in those countries, they have very good policies; very good enforcement and measurement standards which they have to follow.”
Haruna explained that there are different species of cannabis grown worldwide.
“The species they have, which they say they have decriminalised in some of those countries, are those without Tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the active ingredient that makes one to be something else,” he said.
“We have cannabis that is far, far more potent, almost 45 percent, 100 percent Tetrahydrocannabinol. We can’t compare it to what they’re saying they have decriminalised.”
In those countries, enforcement is strict, he explained, arguing further that not so many countries, including the US, have “actually said we have decriminalised some of these drugs. None, including the UK”.
According to the NDLEA secretary, the UK used to allow the importation of cannabinol, which he said is used for some kinds of medical treatment.
“But of late, they have also restricted it because they’ve noticed the increasing content of cannabinol in that particular oil,” he said.
Haruna said while some argue for its commercialisation in Nigeria, the World Health Organization (WHO) has advised that the harmful impact of cannabis outweighs its benefits.
“Some people are saying, ‘We make a lot of money from it.’ But it is not money we are looking for. We are looking for the health of the nation. We’re looking for the well-being of individuals,” he said.
“But they are talking about the commercialisation of drugs and all those things. To me, it is a misconception, which of course the media should come out against it because we know that it’s something that is wrong for this country.”