In a recent interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, Shadrack Haruna, the Secretary of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), shed light on the criminalisation of marijuana use in Nigeria. While countries like the US, UK, and Canada have decriminalised cannabis, Haruna explained that misconceptions abound regarding the drug’s legal status. He pointed out the variations in marijuana species and emphasized the stringent policies and enforcement measures implemented in countries that have decriminalised it.
Haruna highlighted the crucial distinction between the species of cannabis present in those countries and the ones prevalent in Nigeria. The cannabis species decriminalised abroad lacks Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient responsible for its psychoactive effects. However, in Nigeria, the cannabis strains possess significantly higher THC content, ranging from 45 percent to even 100 percent. Haruna stressed that such potent varieties cannot be compared to those deemed decriminalised elsewhere.
Enforcement of drug laws remains stringent in countries that have decriminalised cannabis, including the US and the UK. Haruna stated that the recent restrictions imposed on cannabis oil in these nations were due to the observed increase in cannabinol content. Furthermore, he referenced the World Health Organization’s (WHO) stance, which prioritizes the harmful impact of cannabis over its perceived benefits. Despite arguments favoring commercialisation in Nigeria, the NDLEA prioritizes the nation’s health and well-being over financial gain.
Haruna discouraged the misconceptions surrounding the commercialisation of drugs and urged the media to challenge such notions. For the NDLEA, ensuring the health and well-being of the Nigerian population takes precedence over monetary considerations. While some may argue for the financial opportunities associated with cannabis, the agency remains steadfast in its belief that the criminalisation of drugs is necessary for the country’s progress.