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Cannabis is against the law in Nigeria, despite the country being a leading producer and cultivator of cannabis in West Africa.
However, the Nigerian government has recently proposed a handful of bills that, in varying scopes, seek to legalize medicinal cannabis, decriminalize personal use, and establish a medical marijuana industry.
Medical Marijuana Laws in Nigeria
Cannabis has had a long history of use throughout Africa, but many scholars believe it wasn’t until the years following World War II that the plant gained traction in Nigeria.
Returning soldiers from the North African and Eastern fronts brought seeds home, and cannabis cultivation proliferated throughout the following decades. In response, the Nigerian authorities began to arrest cannabis farmers and seize imported cannabis from other parts of Africa.
The United Kingdom’s colonial-era Dangerous Drugs Act of 1935 outlawed cannabis consumption, while the Indian Hemp Act of 1966 decreed the death penalty for those who cultivated hemp or cannabis, though subsequent amendments removed death sentences and increased jail time up to life imprisonment.
Marijuana use continued spreading despite these arrests in the 1970s by soldiers to bolster courage and by young Nigerians in the 1980s and 90s.
During Nigeria’s military Junta in the 1980s, rulers issued Decree 20, which enabled the death penalty as a punishment for drug trafficking. In the 1990s, “Operation Burn the Weeds” eradicated thousands of hectares of cannabis crops.
This drug policy remains in effect today, but recent government moves by Nigerian states persons have shown a shifting stance towards cannabis use in modern times.
In 2019 and 2020, the Ondo State Governor called for legalizing cannabis for medical use. In 2020, the Nigerian House proposed a bill to allow the cultivation and sale of cannabis for medical and cosmetic use and research purposes.
Another bill in 2023 echoed this previous legislation, seeking to further amend Nigeria’s National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act, or NDLEA Act, to allow the national agency to issue licenses for the sale, use, and cultivation of marijuana.
What to Know About About Medical Cannabis in Nigeria
You cannot access medical or recreational cannabis in Nigeria. Similarly, you cannot bring it into the country. If you’re planning a visit to the area, it is recommended that you leave your cannabis (including CBD) at home, even if you have a medical marijuana card.
Cannabis Is Illegal in Nigeria
Despite pending bills, cannabis consumption and illegal possession are against the law in Nigeria, per the country’s Dangerous Drugs Act.
The law’s wording classifies “Indian hemp” as a dangerous drug and does not distinguish between recreational and medicinal cannabis. Despite this, the Guardian reports that many doctors are discussing medical marijuana and anonymously recommending its use to patients for various conditions.
CBD Is Illegal in Nigeria
Nigerian law doesn’t differentiate between CBD and THC-rich marijuana, stating that any “part of the plant of the genus Cannabis” is illegal. This means CBD and CBD products are prohibited in Nigeria.
Can You Grow Cannabis in Nigeria?
It’s illegal to cultivate cannabis in Nigeria, although the plant grows widely throughout the country as a favored crop of farmers.
Per the law, those found guilty of producing cannabis receive severe punishments ranging from at least 21 years in prison up to the death penalty.
The Bottom Line
Nigerian lawmakers are considering how best to create a legal marijuana industry in a country where it grows most widely. But, for now, cannabis is against the law and best avoided in Nigeria.