Nigeria is looking to explore the cannabis industry to boost the economy and create more streams of income for Nigerians, National Assembly has said. Lawmaker, Benjamin Okezie, who currently is the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Media and Public Affairs, restarted the government’s effort to diversify the economy through agriculture.
Speaking during a conference in Akure, Okezie revealed that Nigeria may soon join the league of countries that have legalised cannabis, otherwise known as Indian hemp. He, however, emphasised the need for collaboration with the media to educate the masses on the benefits and opportunities of the cannabis plant.
“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,” Okezie said. He disclosed that the plant would be used in the making of paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics, beverages, personal care products, pharmaceuticals, fuel, and also in construction.
The lawmaker further noted that there would be a crucial two-day stakeholder roundtable discussions on the benefits of the agricultural plant slated for June 7 and 8, 2021. He said the stakeholders’ forum would attract participants that include scientists, medical and pharmaceutical professionals, farmers, insurance companies, executives and private sector investors among others.
“I have presented before the House of Representatives the Dangerous Drugs Act (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which when passed, will usher in a new era on medicinal cannabis from production, processing and distribution,” he revealed. Okezie said he believed that the discussions would greatly optimise the deliberation of the National Assembly on the bill and prepare the Executive to regulate the sector.
Meanwhile, based on recommendations by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations (UN) voted to remove cannabis from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and re-classified it as medicinal and therapeutic on December 2, 2020