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Is Weed Legal or Illegal in Nigeria?

Cannabis, better and generally known in Nigeria as Weed is a psychoactive plant and a very controversial one. The plant is also known as Ganja, Igbo, SK, Arizona, AZ, Marijuana, MJ, and many other street names in Nigeria. Notably, the Apocynum cannabinum species, aka Indian Hemp, is very popular in the country. 

You’ll find a lot of Nigerian celebrities smoking weed on and off the gram. Also, many everyday Nigerians, most especially the youths use weed recreationally, almost in excess. Cannabis is a plant whose legality varies from place to place. In countries like South Africa, Mexico, and Canada, it’s legal to recreational use weed. 

However, it’s 100% illegal for recreational or any other kind of use in countries like Algeria, Brazil, China, Japan, and France. Well, how about Nigeria? Is weed legal or illegal in Nigeria? You can find out in this article. 

When did Nigerians start using weed?

Weed is said to have arrived in Nigeria later than the rest of the continent. Other African nations have used it for generations. Weed may have entered the country with troops and sailors returning from North Africa and the Far East following WWII. There is no prior indication of it being utilized in Nigeria. 

Weed cultivation developed rapidly after its 1940s introduction. The substance’s use became so widespread that authorities decided to act. Since then, Nigeria has engaged in a losing battle against weed, with farmers growing it across the country despite hefty legal penalties.

Is it legal to buy weed in Nigeria? 

The Dangerous Drugs Act makes it illegal to possess or consume weed in Nigeria. The law defines all different types of weed as harmful narcotics. The Indian Hemp Act makes it clear that possession of the material is a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term not less than four years. Anyone aged seventeen or younger receives 21 cane strokes, plus two years in a borstal or comparable facility; they can also pay a fine. 

Possession of weed-related equipment can potentially result in criminal charges. The suspect could face a minimum of five years in prison. According to Nigerian law, the burden of proof is with the individual who says they had no knowledge of the Weed in their possession. Instead than relying on their defense, they must prove their innocence themselves. 

The NDLEA is in charge of drug policy and enforcement. This agency works with the US and regional governments to combat drug abuse in West Africa. Their authority is restricted by their lack of funds. Nigeria has ratified the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and the 1988 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances.

Due to rampant corruption, cases of possession and use seldom make it to court. Despite the harshness of the legislation, weed use is widespread. According to The Telegraph, the country ranks third in the world in terms of consumption. 

Is it legal to sell weed in Nigeria? 

It is a crime under the Indian Hemp Act to import or sell weed. The punishment is not less than 21 years in prison. The crime is also punishable by a 21-year prison sentence if found exporting it out of Nigeria. Those caught selling Weed were sentenced to death before 1975. 

Cultivating weed is illegal in Nigeria. By law, anyone who knowingly plants or cultivates any type of weed genus faces death or a minimum of 21 years in prison. Regardless, weed is widely produced across the country. It is a highly profitable crop for farmers. Most farming occurs in Edo, Ekiti, Delta, Ondo, Osun, Ogun, and Oyo. The plants thrive in this tropical climate. Weed seeds are forbidden in Nigeria which means they can’t be sent into the country or exported elsewhere.

Use of weed in medicine in Nigeria 

The Nigerian law regards both recreational and medicinal use of weed as illegal. In truth, the situation is more complex. As reported by The Guardian (Nigeria), some doctors in Nigeria prescribe Weed. While many doctors who treat cancer do not feel fully informed about weed, many frequently discuss it in clinics, and nearly half advocate it to patients. 

Once, the governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, planned to launch a medicinal weed program in 2019. However, the Nigerian NDLEA failed to issue a license or clearance for the cultivation and manufacture of medical weed oil and flowers.

Other applications of weed in Nigeria

Some industry experts, legislators, and renewable energy experts have underlined the challenges of eliminating weed from the country. Its economic potential and practical uses including fabric, rope, and paper have been noted. Weed is an excellent fibre for paper manufacturing, however it is not promoted for commercial plantation in Nigeria due to abuse of the plant. 

The stand of political bodies on weed in Nigeria

While some Nigerian political groups are anti-weed, others openly support modifying the rules. In 2018, presidential candidate Omoyele Sowore promised to make Nigeria a major weed export hub if elected, claiming it could make Nigeria millions. Decriminalization was also advocated by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Bottom Line 

Many countries in Africa have legalised weed for therapeutic uses, so Nigeria may follow suit. They may also revive the industrial hemp business to strengthen their economy. But the government is unlikely to decriminalise recreational use soon. 

In conclusion, weed is currently illegal in Nigeria, no matter the type – marijuana, Indian hemp, ganja, Igbo, etc. If you’re caught using, buying, selling, or cultivating weed in Nigeria, you could spend a good number of years in prison.