Can Marijuana Be Legalized In Nigeria?

To many Lagosians, this was just another exercise by the Executive Governor, but to the lovers of cannabis in Lekki, this was a big blow. Lekki Waterside was the place where weed was sold openly, day and night.

Late December 2105, the Governor of Lagos Akinwunmi Ambode ordered security officials to ‘clear’ Lekki waterside- a popular spot in highbrow in  Lagos.

Lekki housewives, brats, trust fund kids, and hustlers got their daily fix of the sweet herb at waterside. In one swoop all the ganja plugs were no longer at this place.

Lekki Waterside was just one of many places in Lagos where weed is sold. Cannabis is this generation’s nicotine. Smoking weed is no big deal. Everyone does it these days and not just indoors. In clubs and parties, hazy clouds of cannabis can be seen above young people.

Lekki waterside Lekki waterside

No one can deny the popularity of weed. The New Afrikan Shrine is arguably the number one dispensary of the drug and several Nigerian singers are open about their love of weed. Back in the day, only Fela Kuti was the only one bold enough to smoke it publicly.

Fela smokes a massive weed jointFela smokes a massive weed joint

Marijuana culture is big among Nigerian youths but despite its popularity the laws haven’t caught up with what’s going on in the world.

On Tuesday, November 8, 2016, The states of California, Massachusetts and Nevada approved the recreational use of marijuana. This is the latest development in the marijuana industry in America where several states approved marijuana for medical reasons.

WizkidWizkid lighting his ‘smoke’

In Netherlands, marijuana is legal and in the United Kingdom there is pressure on the government to legalise marijuana. In the weed capital of the world, Jamaica, marijuana isn’t legal but it has been decriminalised.

Meanwhile, in November 2016, a Federal High Court in Lagos on sentenced a 20-year-old newspaper vendor, Muyideen Olarenwaju, to one-year imprisonment for dealing on 1.9kg of marijuana. He was prosecuted by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).

The mere possession of a small quantity of weed will get you arrested by the Nigerian Police Force. Apart from the legal blockade, marijuana is still largely perceived, especially by older Nigerians as the devil’s leaf. Older people will tell you that weed makes you irresponsible and mad.

Perception is different from reality and the reality about weed is that it does not kill and it is not harmful as nicotine that is surprisingly legal. All studies have shown that weed does not have any adverse effect on your health.

NDLEA burns 1bn worth of marijuana in Edo state in May, 2016NDLEA burns 1bn worth of marijuana in Edo state in May, 2016

Despite recent studies and global trends, the recreational use of marijuana is still outlawed in the country. The Ministry of Health and the Nigerian Senate have remained silent about marijuana.

Weed is still illegal but that hasn’t stopped its popularity. At the Afrikan Shrine, weed is sold in public but the police don’t bother arresting the dealers.

However, because of the conservative nature of the country, the legalisation of weed is still very far off.


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Written by Damilola Odunsi


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