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Cannabis: Legalisation, Economic Benefits, Health benefits, And Side Effects

The quickening pace of cannabis legalisation could change the food, drink and beauty landscape over the next decade, according to market research organisation Euromonitor International.

What is Cannabis?

Cannabis is a plant with bright green colour and has a distinctive shape with five or seven leaflets. The flowering tops and upper leaves are covered in a sticky resin.

Cannabis contains a chemical that is used for the psychoactive (mind and mood-altering) effects, in a layman expression, “it makes you feel “high”. People use dried leaves, seed oil, and other parts of the cannabis plant for recreational and medicinal purposes. It can have a pleasurable effect and may soothe the symptoms of various conditions, such as chronic pain. When the flowers of these plants are harvested and dried, you’re left with one of the most common drugs in the world. Some call it to weed, some call it pot, and others call it marijuana.

Uses of Cannabis

According to Wikipedia, in 2013, between 128 and 232 million people used cannabis, which is 2.7% to 4.9% of the global population.
It is the most commonly used illegal drug in the world, though it is legal in some parts of the world. Nigeria is among the country with the highest usage of cannabis especially adults aged 18-65. Countries with more users of cannabis in the world are Zambia, the United States and Canada.

What forms is Cannabis Used?

EDIBLES – The dried leaves and flowers (buds) of the cannabis plant are known as marijuana, which can be smoked, or consumed as an edible ingredient in food, for example, cookies, brownies cakes.

cannabis is used as an ingredient in a cake called brownies

ECSTASY – The gummy secretions of the plant are known as hashish. This can be smoked or eaten. Hash contains a higher concentration of psychoactive chemicals that produces a feeling of ecstasy in humans. It is the most potent form of cannabis.

Hashish is sometimes used for food

TEXTILE – The fibre of the cannabis plant is cultivated as industrial hemp which is used in textile manufacturing.

RECREATIONAL – The plant has been used for its psychoactive and perceived health benefits. For years now, it has been used as a popular recreational drug.

JOINT – The dried leaves and flowers are known as buds of the cannabis plant, also known as marijuana, it can be smoked through a pipe, hand-rolled into a joint.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cannabis is the most commonly abused, trafficked, and cultivated illicit drug in the world. There are many different strains of the cannabis plant. it contains THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), which has mind-altering properties and interacts with cannabinoid receptors in the brain.

Common Side Effects of Cannabis
Abusive use of cannabis can cause these short & long term effects:

Irritation to the lungs, risk of developing chronic bronchitis and an increased risk of developing cancer of the respiratory tract. This is more likely to do with smoking the substance.
its use is likely to increase the risk of developing schizophrenia and bipolar disorders. 

Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe mental disorder that affects the way a person thinks, acts, expresses emotions, or perceives reality. 

This why heavy cannabis users are more likely to report thoughts of suicide, anxiety, and panic than non-users.

It use significantly raises the heart rate, leading to cardiac arrest or hypertension.
Chronic use can lower sperm count in males and lead to irregular periods in females. This can lead to decreased sex drive.

Many users of cannabis often develop an addiction to the substance.
Regular cannabis use is likely to increase the risk of developing a social anxiety disorder.

The legality of Cannabis in Nigeria

Marijuana Legalization in Nigeria: Much ado about nothing.

Cannabis is widely grown across the States of Nigeria, including Ondo State, Edo State, Delta State, Osun State, Oyo State and Ogun State. Nigeria is rated the 8th highest consumer of it in the world. Use of it is largely illegal in Nigeria – According to the Dangerous Drugs Act (DDA), 1935 and Indian Hemp Act (IHA), 1966 the planting, harvesting, and consumption of cannabis is not allowed in Nigeria.

The use of it became a public issue in Nigeria after it was abused by individuals, with some losing their minds and becoming psychiatric patients. By the 1950s, arrests of Nigerian cannabis farmers are documented, as well as a small flow of Nigerian cannabis to the United States and Europe, and some import of cannabis from South Africa and the Belgian Congo.

During the early 1970s, the use of it became common among soldiers who abused it in order to suppress timidity. The use of cannabis became popular among youths between 1980 and 1990. Nigeria strengthened its focus on its eradication with the 1994 launch of “Operation Burn the Weeds”. However, this was short-lived as it crashed in year 2000.

Advocacy of Legalizing Cannabis

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Daily, there has been strong advocacy for the legalization of the substance in Nigeria. The Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu is an ardent supporter of the legalization of this product. He proposed in 2019 for the cultivation of the plant in his state for medical use; a proposal he is still keen at.

A presidential aspirant in the last presidential election of 2019, Omoyele Sowore, said in 2018 that if he was elected president, the country will become a major exporter of marijuana. He posited that the export of cannabis will add to the GDP of Nigeria. He continued, “Some of the best weed in the world are grown in Ekiti state. I’m very serious and people are making billions out of that particular plant that is very potent in Nigeria. We should be focusing on it.”

Economic Benefits of Cannabis

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The commercialization of the plant can potentially have the following economic benefits:

Generate Revenue

According to a recent by Bloomberg, for recreational and medical purposes, the market would be worth US$90.4bn by 2026. Nigeria currently has an estimated 20.8 million pot consumers lighting up annually, with more than $15 billion spent on weed every year. If this is channelled into export, then imagine the revenue that will be made from its sale.

Investment Opportunities

According to Investopedia, legal marijuana presents the possibility of tremendous benefits to economies on a local and a national scale.

This means that it could help to secure the investment of investors across the country and outside, who see the industry as a gold mine, especially in the medical & pharmaceutical industry. Investors would surely capitalize on the growth of the industry, which will spur the growth of the industry, thereby improving the Nation’s economy.

As this growth continues, companies producing & marketing cannabis and its products would be free to list their stocks on stock exchanges. This will hereby enhance liquidity and open up access to many more investors.

Create Employment

The beneficial use of the plant, coupled with his health benefit will motivate entirely new crop experts including medical doctors, nurses, university-educated botanists, farmers, scientists into that industry. The value chain of the plant will influence a generation of new companies in the industry, which will definitely create lots of jobs.

Legalizing the plant will not only create employment opportunities but contribute significantly to the growth of the economy

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