A member of House of Representatives, Mr Benjamin Kalu, on Monday called for the legalisation of cannabis sativa also known as Indian hemp in Nigeria.
The federal lawmaker pointed out that many countries of the world have legalized cannabis for industrial purpose and there was a need for Nigeria to emulate this.
Kalu, who is a spokesman of the House of Representatives, stated this in Akure, the Ondo State capital, on Monday in a chat with journalists.
According to him, a major challenge to Nigeria’s entry into the cannabis business is the farming, production, and use of cannabis for medical and industrial purpose is that it has not been legalised.
He said there was a need for the country to look inwards, to identify, optimise and exploit the areas of its strength in the light of challenges facing the oil sector.
He said, “Agriculture has always been a major strength of Nigeria and cannabis provides interesting prospects. Industrial hemp is a variety of the cannabis sativa plant species that is grown specifically for industrial use.
“Once harvested, the crop has a high yield of edible proteins and fibres with more than 50,000 product applications ranging from paper making, textiles, biodegradable plastics, fuel, construction, healthy food,
beverages, personal care products, and pharmaceuticals.”
He added, “According to verified market research, the Global Industrial Hemp Market was valued at USD 5bn in 2019 and is projected to reach USD 36bn by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 34 per cent from 2019 to 2026.
“According to a consultancy firm Prohibition Partners, by 2023, the value of Africa’s legal cannabis market could be worth over USD 7.1bn.
“Currently, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and South Africa have legalised the growing of industrial hemp in Africa; and according to Prohibition Partners’ research, by 2023, just two years from now, the South African domestic market for cannabis and related products will be worth around USD 1.9bn.
“Fortunately, Nigeria has various advantages including affordable land, low-cost labour and an experienced agricultural workforce. Nigeria is also positioned to benefit from a first-mover advantage in Africa.”