Cultivation of medicinal cannabis in Ondo; beyond the  pokes and jibes

Cultivation of medicinal cannabis in Ondo; beyond the  pokes and jibes

By Sunmola Olowookere
In the developed world, bringing novel innovations and developing ideas that are out of the ordinary are the hallmarks of a leader who is determined to drive the economy of his state or country despite all odds.

Reminiscent of this was the burgeoning interest that the Ondo state government has exhibited in cultivating medicinal cannabis in some controlled areas of the state if it is able to secure a licence to embark on this venture from the federal government.

Why is it important?

Several countries that are observing the trend are now passing laws that allow people to use medical marijuana .

So what does it treat, and who can and should use it?

According to an internet site, Pain is the main reason people ask for a prescription, says Barth Wilsey, MD, a pain medicine specialist at the University of California Davis Medical Center. It could be from headache, a disease like

cancer, or a long-term condition, like

glaucoma or nerve pain.

“If you live in a state where medical marijuana is legal and your doctor thinks it would help, you’ll get a “marijuana card.” You will be put on a list that allows you to buy marijuana from an authorized seller, called a dispensary.

Barth said that doctors also may prescribe medical marijuana to treat muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis, nausea from cancer chemotherapy, poor appetite and weight loss caused by chronic illness such as HIV, or nerve pain, Seizure disorders and Crohn’s disease

He stated that the FDA, an arm in charge of food and drug administration has also approved THC, a key ingredient in marijuana, to treat nausea and improve appetite.

“It’s available by prescription Marinol ( dronabinol) and

Cesamet ( nabilone)” he disclosed.

How Does It Work?

Your body already makes marijuana-like chemicals that affect pain, inflammation, and many other processes. Marijuana can sometimes help those natural chemicals work better, says Laura Borgelt, PharmD, of the University of Colorado.

Medical marijuana may be smoked, vaporized (heated until active ingredients are released, but no smoke is formed), eaten (usually in the form of cookies or candy) or taken as a liquid extract, she said.

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Side effects of marijuana that usually don’t last long can include:

dizziness, drowsiness, short-term memory loss and euphoria.

More serious side effects include severe anxiety and psychosis.

Risks and Limits

Medical marijuana is not monitored like other food and drugs administration agency approved medicines. When using it, one does not know its potential to cause

cancer , its purity, potency, or side effects.

Only people who have a card from a doctor should use medical marijuana. It is believed that doctors will not prescribe medical marijuana to anyone under 18.

Others who should not use it are people with heart disease, pregnant women and people with a history of psychosis

Ondo state experience

Following a recent trip to Thailand, Akeredolu enumerated the modalities that would be involved in Medicinal Cannabis Extract Development in Ondo state.

While allaying fears in some quarters that the venture could cause more youths to be involved in cannabis abuse, he explained that the focus of his administration is on medical Cannabis cultivation in controlled areas under the full supervision of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).

In response to the mockery and the criticism of some individuals and groups on the idea, the governor was quick to dispel the notion which stemmed from the rumour making the rounds that the government was encouraging cannabis cultivation.

Akeredolu explained that the government was only looking at the possibility of having legally cultivated cannabis for medicinal usage and not for unwholesome or frivolous reasons.

In this vein, he frowned at illegal cultivation of cannabis in the state while he pointed out that since many countries in the world are realising huge profits from regulated cultivation of cannabis, the same thing can be replicated in the state.

“It is the mission of the current administration that the state can benefit by ensuring that only licensed people are allowed to grow and cultivate it in a regulated areas for the purpose of extracting the hemp oil for exportation”.

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It  is believed that the development would improve the foreign earnings and the economy of the country and the state in particular.

From all indications, the venture may not commence immediately as the state would have to be first of all be licensed by the federal government before going into it.

Akeredolu had assured critics and other concerned citizens of the state that government would not go against the United Nations (UN) Single Convention which goes against accumulation of cannabis, adding that government would only license some people who would be given bloc in confined areas under the supervision of the regulatory agencies.

Expert’s opinion

Reacting on the issue, a pharmacist and an academician, Pharm. Olatunji Fasoro, the Deputy Provost of College of Health Sciences and Technology, Ijero Ekiti, Ekiti state said that the cultivation, distribution and the sales of cannabis have been a subject of controversy globally.

He believed that it was not only in our climes that the venture is meeting with some measure of resistance.

He stated that while some countries gave legal backing to cultivation of the weed, others consider the venture as illegal.

He believed that the venture have its merits especially in a country like Nigeria with an economy that is majorly import driven.

“Most raw materials used in production are imported including the raw materials for the production of pharmaceuticals, ” he said.

He believed that the soil of Ondo state will be good for the medicinal cannabis cultivation as there had been reported cases of illegal (large) production of it in States like Ekiti & Ondo.

It therefore shows that its cultivation if given legal backing ,as being proposed in Ondo State, will not be a problem as her land may be suitable for such venture.

It will also serve as raw materials for use by pharmacists in the country and could be exported to other countries of the world.

The only snag in this process, according to him was that any land used for such purpose can scarcely be used immediately and one would  need to wait for several years for other plants to be cultivated on it.

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“This is because of the nutrients depleting nature of cannabis”.

Also, he advised that there may be need for serious legislation  in view of the peculiarity of Nigeria people who might want to abuse the process.

He warned against its abuse while saying that Cannabis is a potent drug applied in managing nausea & vomiting associated with side effects of chemotherapy, improve appetite in HIV/AIDS patients, management of chronic pain, component of anointing oil, source of food stuffs like hemp oil, hemp seed & hemp milk.

He stated that it is also used as recreational drugs similar to alcohol, caffeine & tobacco and that other non- medicinal uses include paper & textile materials.

“The feasibility of the project depends on the seriousness of the government of our dear country in term of infrastructure provisions like  transportation, power & all sorts.

“Once it is back up with appropriate legalislation for cultivation, distribution, sales and exportation will not be a problem in case the country lacks facilities to transform it to finished products.” He advised

He said that countries like Columbia, Mexico, India, South Africa, Afghanistan, Jamaica & Netherlands have legalised the cultivation of cannabis while countries like Canada & Uraguay have fully legalised the sales and consumption of it.

“However, only 10 states have fully legalised its sales & consumption in United States of America,” he expounded.

He cautioned that just like some other chemicals, cannabis has its own health hazard like hallucinations, depression, dependence & addiction properties.

However, a clergyman, Pastor Dare Owolabi expressed reservations over criminally-minded youths who might see it as a means of unbridled indulgence of the substance abuse.

He claimed that youths would be adversely affected as more of them would indulge in the substance abuse.

He urged government at both federal and state levels to put in place defense mechanisms that will guide against such fears materialising if it would eventually embark on the cultivation.

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