By Adekola Afolabi
Stakeholders at the round table discussion on the benefits and opportunities of cannabis plant and CBD Oil in Nigeria have thrown their weights behind controlled cultivation of cannabis for medicinal use and foreign exchange earner.
They called on the federal government and other relevant agencies to work towards legalisation of regulated cultivation of cannabis, so that, the country can make good use of all advantages provided by the plant for the benefit of mankind and improvement of the economy.
The stakeholders included the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Public Affairs & Media, Hon. Okezie Kalu; Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora, Hon. Tolu Akande-Sadipe, and Hon. Princess Mariam Onuoha; the National President, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Pharm ( Mazi) Sam Ohuanbwua and the National Chairman, Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria, Dr Samuel Adekola.
Others who lend their voice in support of the cultivation of the plant in a controlled manner are, Prof. Agbaje Gideon Olubunmi; Ladi Sojode Esq, Yinka Arasi Esq; Mr. Abiodun Adewumi; J.B Wechsler; NUJ Ondo State Council; Ministry of Natural Resources, Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Health.
The theme of the round table discussion is, “The Benefits and Opportunities of Cannabis Plant and CBD Oil in Nigeria – Research, Legislation, License, Medicine, Agro-Economy, Empowerment, IGR and Trade Exchange”.
This is coming as the state Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, revealed that controlled cultivation of cannabis plant for medical usage and exportation would generate several billions of dollars and provide thousands of jobs for the teeming youths.
At the event held at the International Culture and Events Centre (The Dome), Akure, the National President, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Pharm ( Mazi) Sam Ohuanbwua, explained that the economic benefits is the driving force in legalisation of cannabis cultivation and medicinal use.
According to Ohuanbwua represented by Dr. Lolu Ojo, the benefits include income and job, impact on tax revenue, investment opportunities, among others, adding, “Nigeria economy will need opportunities of this nature as a panacea to recent upheavals, but we need to take things easy.”
He recommended that the state should continue the engagement and expand the scope to include many stakeholders, adding that it is important to get the Federal Ministry of Health (and her agencies) involved in building a consensus on the subject.
The President said PSN is fully ready to work with Ondo State Government to find the right altitude to fly on the journey, saying. “On our part, we know that scientific issues are never cast in concrete, and we will continue to seek information and details that could make us to take a firm decision in the interest of all Nigerians”, he added.
Also, the National Chairman, Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria, (ACPN), Dr Samuel Adekola who said the medical, industrial and economic values of cannabis are hindered by the prohibition, disclosed that regulation would encourage research on the cannabis.
“However, in regulating Cannabis we will have to decide, the purpose for Cannabis regulation namely: Medical Use, Industrial Use, Exportation, Recreational.
This is necessary as the purpose for regulation of cannabis will influence the legal framework for the regulation.
In his remarks, the State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, who disclosed that the global market of medicinal cannabis in 2019 was put at 52.8 billion dollars, also added that the market forecast is an average of 14.5% increase from year 2020 to reach 103.9 billion dollars by 2024.
The Governor encouraged stakeholders on the need to break the barrier of misconception occasioned by ignorance and ill-information on cannabis plant and CBD oil in the country.
Akeredolu explained the cannabis plant has tremendous therapeutic value, stressing that it is being used to treat cancer, epilepsy and so many other ailments, noting that the country has not succeeded in stopping the cultivation and misuse of cannabis despite its prohibition.
“We need to save our forests from further plundering by Cannabis cultivators. Climate change phenomenon is a reality with devastating effect on our ecology or environment. This approach will reduce the availability of cannabis in the underworld market because cultivators would like to sell in a more financially-rewarding markets. That is talking about industrial and medical market”, he said.