STRONG indications emerged Monday that Nigeria may soon relax its law against planting and consumption of cannabis, with declaration that the United Nations ((UN) has approved usage of the drug for medical purposes
The position of UN on the usage and abuse of drug was declared by Project Officer of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Nigeria, Harsheth Kaur Virk in her presentation at the one day Public hearing organized by Senator Joshua Lidani, PDP, Gombe South led Senate Committee on Drugs and Narcotics on the need to check rising menace of Pharmaceutical drugs abuse among youth in Nigeria organised by the Senate Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Health .
According to her, Cannabis is a miracle drug allowed for medical purposes by the United Nations, but not for recreational purposes, adding, “Nigeria as a sovereign Nation has its stringent laws against it but international conventions of the UN have approved it for medical purposes based on outcome of researches conducted to that effect by globally recognized institutes.”
According to her, aside cannabis, recreational users of other addictive drugs by UN recommendation. should not be criminalised, but rehabilitated, adding, “The Drugs and Crime office of the UN sees addictive drugs users as people who are sick, in need of treatment, care and rehabilitation.”
Meanwhile, the world organisation threw its weight behind decriminalization of drug users across the world who are sick people in of treatment, care and rehabilitation.
Harsheth Kaur Virk who noted that UN is not against traffickers of such drugs being criminalised as it is the case globally, however told the gathering that the Nation’s security operatives particularly the Police should be made to be proactive in approach against drug traffickers and not reactive.
Similarly, the representative of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency ( NDLEA) , Mr Femi Oloruntoba , Director , Technical Services , told the committee that drug users in Nigeria are not criminalised but drug traffickers or possessors .
But Professor Martins Emeje who represented the Director General of National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development ( NIPRD) at the public hearing said all stakeholders in the sector including the legislators should be blamed for the problem of drug abuse in the country .
” If the truth must be told, problem of pharmaceutical substances abuse in the country is caused by the executive , the legislature and the various regulatory agencies including the research institute I represent here “, he said .
He lamented that the research institute has never been well funded by succesive governments in the country to bail out the country out of drug abuse and fake drugs, adding that in last year’s budget for example, out of the N47m requested for research, N20m was appropriated but not released .
He stunned the audience when asked the amount the agency would need for research to come up with locally made drugs against malaria, HIV/Aids, fungi infection and Nasal decongestant by saying N1.2billion .
Other stakeholders who made presentations were the President of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria , Pharm Ahmed Yakasai, representative of the Minister of Health, Pharm Zainab Sheriff etc .