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The hope Aran is talking about comes in a 10 milliliter bottle. It is cannabis oil — also known as CBD oil — and Aran says it has a profound impact on many of his pediatric patients diagnosed with autism.
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Likewise, the former president, Olusegun Obasanjo called for cannabis use to be decriminalised. In an interview with BBC Newsday, he commented: “I was in prison as a political prisoner and I interacted with these people, some of them just for being caught with a wrap of marijuana, they’re put in jail. They came out of jail more hardened, more hardened criminals than when they went in.”
In 2018, presidential hopeful Omoyele Sowore stated that he’d make Nigeria a major cannabis-exporting hub if he got elected to office. He stated that: “People are making billions out of that particular plant that is very potent in Nigeria. We should be focusing on it (…) Instead of chasing after people who are growing weed (we should be) chasing after our politicians who are smoking cocaine in their houses.”
Currently, cultivating industrial hemp in Nigeria is illegal. However, experts within the industry, not to mention politicians and renewable energy specialists, have highlighted the problems of eradicating hemp in the country.
Industrial hemp in Nigeria
The Indian Hemp Act further clarifies the situation – stating that possession of the substance is an offence, which can be punished with “imprisonment for a term of not less than four years”. However, if the offender is seventeen or under, the sentence is adjusted to 21 strokes of the cane, plus two years in a borstal or similar institution, or a fine of N200.
In addition to its own laws, Nigeria is also a signatory to the 1961 Single Convention of Narcotic Drugs, and the 1988 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances.
According to the Indian Hemp Act, anyone who imports or sells cannabis is considered “guilty of an offence”. If caught, they can be sentenced to imprisonment for a term of “not less than 21 years”. Likewise, any offender caught exporting the substance out of Nigeria is also subject to a 21-year prison term.
It’s believed that cannabis arrived fairly late to Nigeria, especially when compared to the rest of the continent. Many other African countries have been using it for centuries.
However, it is important to note that medical preparation of Indian hemp is exempted and lawful, so far as such does not contravene another federal law known as the Dangerous Drugs Act, 1935. By the Dangerous Drugs Act, commencing from 1st July 1935, there is regulation of importation, exportation, manufacture, sale and use of opium and other dangerous drugs. Medically prepared India hemp (including “CBD” oil) is legal and lawful in Nigeria, so far as it is medically dispensed by a member of the Medical or Dental Practitioner or a veterinary surgeon with license. The President of Nigeria has powers to make regulations for production, prescription, possession, sale and use medically prepared Indian hemp and any other dangerous drugs. Hence, CBD oil and Indian hemp are generally illegal but medically prepared CBD oil or Indian hemp substance are legal, lawful and allowed but must be prescribed by medical doctors or veterinary doctors.
IS CBD OIL (CANNABIDIOL) LEGAL IN NIGERIA?
Daily Law Tips (Tip 569) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LLM. ACIArb(UK).
In Nigeria, there is a 1966 federal legislation that makes the planting, cultivation, importation, etc. of Indian hemp an offence as well as other related activities. The said law is the “Indian Hemp Act” which commenced operation since 31 March 1966 and is still in operation. This said Act, defines Indian Hemp to include the following;
1. 1. any plant or part of a plant of the genus cannabis; or
2. 2. the separated resin, whether crude or purified, obtained from any plant of the genus cannabis; or
3. 3. any preparation containing any such resin, by whatever name that plant, part, resin or preparation may be called.
Clearly by the definition above, Indian Hemp includes any plant under the family of Cannabis (Marijuana) or any chemical/extract from such plant, whether in raw form or refined (purified/packaged). Generally, Indian Hemp and its chemicals/oil are Illegal in Nigeria. So, CBD oil, marijuana gum or its coffee, snack, lotion, spice, wax, paste, tea or any substance are generally illegal in Nigeria.
According to Harvard University’s publication, “‘CBD’ stands for cannabidiol. It is the second most prevalent of the active ingredients of cannabis (marijuana). While CBD is an essential component of medical marijuana, it is derived directly from the hemp plant, which is a cousin of the marijuana plant. While CBD is a component of marijuana (one of hundreds), by itself it does not cause a “high.” According to a report from the World Health Organisation, “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.” While CBD oil is said to be very curative and already being sold quietly in shops and online platforms across Nigeria, there are outstanding are serious legal questions. Is CBD oil legal in Nigeria? Can it be imported into Nigeria? Is it a crime to advertise, distribute, use, sell, buy or deal on CBD oil in Nigeria? These questions are very important, since ignorance of law is not an excuse in Nigeria.
My authorities are;
1. Sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 12 and 15 of the India Hemp Act, 1966.
2. Sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8(b), of Dangerous Drugs Act, 1935.
3. Peter Grinspoon, Cannabidiol (CBD) — What We Know and What We Don’t (Harvard Health Publishing, 24 August 2018) Accessed 16 April 2020
5. Supreme Court’s decision (on issue of whether the Cannabis sativa is Indian hemp) in the case of OKEWU v. FRN (2012) LPELR-7834(SC)
6. Court of Appeal’s decision (on issue of whether the Cannabis sativa is Indian hemp) in the case of NWADIEM v. FRN (2018) LPELR-44506(CA).
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