Marwa: Cannabis is not candy — legalising it could fuel narco-terrorism

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Buba Marwa, chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), says cannabis cannot be legalised in Nigeria because of its level of abuse.

Marwa said this on Friday while presenting an address as a guest speaker at the 2021 Ulefunta annual public lecture.

The event, which held in Ondo state, was organised by Aladetoyinbo Aladelusi, the Deji of Akure.

Marwa, who was represented by Lanre Ipinmisho, his special adviser on the national drug control master plan (NDCMP), said legalising cannabis in Nigeria will worsen the menace of drug abuse, which will also increase insecurity.

“We have seen narco-terrorism in countries like Colombia and Mexico, where drug cartels are law unto themselves and are as powerful, if not more powerful than the state. So, there are real cases, not scenarios, of where and how illicit substances played a role in a society’s rapid descent into chaos and tethering on the brink of a failed state,” he said, according to a statement by Femi Babafemi, NDLEA spokesman,

“So, the pertinent question for us today is: Have drugs played any role in the festering insecurity in Nigeria? The answer is yes. Of this, we have ample evidence.

“We do not have the luxury of allowing a narcotic economy to take root and thrive in our society. Africa, nay Nigeria, has enough problems without adding the burden of narco-terrorism.

“Of all the known illicit substances, cannabis sativa is the only one that is native to Nigeria and it is the most abused of all illicit drugs, and from the findings of the national drug survey of 2018, cannabis is becoming a national albatross.

“Where cannabis is concerned, we should not by any argument allow ourselves to become the proverbial fool that rushed in where angels fear to tread. Countries like Canada, that are pro-cannabis, have strong and efficient institutions that are way ahead of ours by long mileages.”

Marwa also said despite the claims that cultivating cannabis can offer economic benefits, the disadvantages are more.

“Given the reality of our law enforcement, controlled cultivation of cannabis is a mirage. Aren’t pharmaceutical opioids controlled? Tramadol, codeine, rohypnol, benzopam, they are all controlled, yet, their trafficking and abuse is causing us unquantifiable human and economic loss,” he said.

“And for those who point at the inherent economic benefit that could accrue from legalisation of cultivation, in accordance with our reality, would you be comfortable, if by tomorrow, your 13-year-old son can easily access marijuana, or you find some wraps of weed in his pocket, or you learnt that someone has introduced your 16-year-old daughter to smoking ‘igbo’ under the pretext that it has medicinal value?

“Our individual answer to that question will give us a public opinion of where we should stand as a country in the cannabis debate.

“We should stop treating cannabis like some sweet candy without any side effects. Its repercussions outweigh the vaunted benefits. And legalising its cultivation for a country like Nigeria, is a shortcut to illicit drug Armageddon. At a time we are taking a forward march in the fight against drug abuse, attempting to paint cannabis in a favourable light is akin to taking backward steps.

“As far as NDLEA is concerned, cannabis remains an illicit substance. The Agency shall always canvass against its cultivation, possession, trafficking and sales, and use. And offenders will face the wrath of the law. And, if I may add, our conviction rate is 90% successful.”

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