A bill to legalise the medical use of cannabis, on Wednesday, suffered a setback at the House of Representatives as the committee charged with navigating the bill to fruition expressed open opposition to it.
The Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Drugs and Narcotics, Francis Agbor, said the committee will not support the bill.
Mr Agbor stated this during the budget defence of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
The Chairman of NDLEA, Buba Marwa, appeared before the committee to defend the budget of his agency.
Miriam Onuoha (APC, Imo) had sponsored a bill to legalise the cultivation and medical use of cannabis in Nigeria.
Also, the Leader of the House, Ado Dogwa (APC, Kano), sponsored another bill prescribing tougher sanctions on traders, dealers and users of cannabis.
Both bills are at different stages of legislation.
The spokesperson of the House, Ben Kalu (APC, Abia), has also been advocating for the use of recreational and medical cannabis. In May, while speaking in Akure, Ondo State, Mr Kalu made a case for cannabis on economic grounds.
However, the committee charged with pushing the bill through public hearing and committee of the whole to legalise cannabis says it is not supporting it.
According to Mr Agbor, cannabis contributes to insecurity in Nigeria, noting that legalising the substance will lead to more crises.
“We are not supporting the so-called legitimisation of Cannabis,” he said, adding that “If there is so much madness, killings and so in the country now, if we legitimise Cannabis, the madness would quadruple.”
The committee also assured Mr Marwa, that the amendment to the NDLEA Act will ensure that the agency is added to the Police Trust Fund. The committee is also considering amending the Police Trust Fund to include NDLEA as one of its beneficiaries.
“Since we have humongous amount of money stashed in the Police Trust Fund, we are proposing a bill. It has passed the first reading. The bill seeks to ensure that the NDLEA is made to be a beneficiary of that trust fund,” he stated.
In his reaction, Mr Marwa explained to the committee that drug barons are using boats to bring narcotics into the country, adding that the NDLEA has been collaborating with the Navy for boats to tackle the traffickers.
“The reason for patrol boats is because the cartels are becoming wary of our airports and the Seme border and other places and now they are using boats and for this reason, we have just established a marine, which needs boats and these boats are from the Navy. They build boats now so they will be able to help us,” he said.
He lamented the poor funding of the agency, describing it as inadequate.
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