Nigerian State Unveils New Medical Marijuana Program
Seun Kuti, son of Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti, said he would move to Ondo, Nigeria if medical marijuana becomes legal — and it looks like that’s about to happen.
Published on May 16, 2019

Medical marijuana may soon make its debut in Nigeria, thanks to the efforts of Rotimi Akeredolu, governor of the western state of Ondo, locally known as the Sunshine State.

This week, Akeredolu announced that his state plans to begin cultivating medicinal cannabis in cooperation with federal drug authorities. "We all know that Ondo State is the hot bed of cannabis cultivation in Nigeria,” Akeredolu tweeted. “We know how to grow it, and it thrives well in the Sunshine State. With an estimated value of $145 billion in 2025, we would be shortchanging ourselves if we failed to tap into the legal marijuana market.”

In the tweet, the governor called upon the country's Federal Government (FG) to back his plans to begin growing medical marijuana “in controlled plantations under the full supervision of the @ndlea_n [National Drug Law Enforcement Agency]. I strongly implore the FG to take this seriously as it is a thriving industry that will create 1000's of Jobs for our youth & spur Economic Diversification."

Akeredolu recently traveled to Thailand with the Chairman of the NDLEA, Col. Muhammad Mustapha, to observe how the country's medical marijuana cultivators are growing their crops. “We are here to study how cannabis can be more advantageous to the [Ondo] State and Nigeria at large, just the way Thai Government has done,” Akeredolu said, according to Punch. “The program is centered around exploiting the possibility of medicinal cannabis extract development and it is aimed at building capacity and researching the modality of licensing for planting and extracting cannabis oil in Nigeria, as well as exploiting its commercial potential with focus on Ondo State.”

Africa has so far been slow to embrace the global tide of cannabis reform, and most countries prohibit all forms of marijuana entirely, even though it remains a popular crop in countries like Tanzania and Ghana. South Africa is leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of the continent, having legalized medical marijuana in 2017 and full adult-use last year. Zimbabwe also legalized medical marijuana last year, but only allows medicinal extracts created from non-psychoactive hemp.

News of Akeredolu's bold plan spread quickly throughout Nigeria. Seun Kuti, son of Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti, was quick to show his support on social media: “Ehn Mr. excellency sir, if u want me to move to your state, just say so. This beating about the bush is unnecessary. Afrobeat is about to switch home base y’all. Just imagine one good joint for my back ache then better Ondo pounded yam to heal my stomach pain, nuff said.” [sic]

Chris Moore
Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.
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