Reps clash over fresh bill to legalize Marijuana
Some members of the House of Representatives clashed on Wednesday over a bill seeking to legalize cultivation, sale and use of cannabis, also known as marijuana, for commercial purposes.
Two members of the House, Benjamin Kalu and Olumide Osoba, had sponsored a fresh bill seeking to amend the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act, to expand the scope of the anti-narcotics agency to issue licences for the cultivation, sale and use of marijuana.
The legislation was titled, ‘A Bill for an Act to Amend the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act, Cap. N30, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to Confer Additional Responsibility of the Power to Grant and Revoke Licenses for the Cultivation of Cannabis (or Any of Its Three Species, Namely Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indicia and Cannabis Ruderalis) Plant for Medicinal Purposes; and for Related Matters.’
The bill is a consolidated version of Kalu and Osoba’s separate bills numbered HBs. 1190 & 1918.
However, when the bill was up for second reading at the plenary on Wednesday, another member of the House, Miriam Onuoha, protested that the content of the bill was the same as hers, which she sponsored long ago.
The Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, in his ruling, asked both sides to liaise with the Chairman of the House Committee on Rules and Business, Abubakar Fulata, to identify the differences and similarities between the bills ahead of sitting on Thursday.
Cannabis cultivation, sale and use are presently outlawed in Nigeria.
The PUNCH had reported on January 7, 2021, that the House was, however, proposing the legalization of cultivation and trading in cannabis, also known as hemp or marijuana, for medical and cosmetic use, research purposes as well as revenue generation for Nigeria.
The Cannabis Control Bill, 2020, sponsored by Miriam Onuoha, is titled ‘A Bill for an Act to Regulate the Cultivation, Possession, Availability and Trade of Cannabis for Medical and Research Use, and Related Purposes.’
If the bill becomes law, hospitals and doctors will be allowed to prescribe doses of cannabis for the treatment of patients, while pharmacies and stores will be allowed to sell it.
In the bill, Onuoha said, “Relevant agencies will be empowered to “regulate the growth and use of cannabis; register cannabis growers and users; issue licences to cannabis growers, processors producers, manufacturers and users; and develop awareness programmes on the growth and use of cannabis.”
The agencies also advise federal and state governments on matters relating to cannabis growers, producers, manufacturers and users, while educating the masses on the healthy and unhealthy use of cannabis as well as undertaking research and policy development on the growth and use of cannabis.