History of CBD and Cannabis: Nigeria
As a coastal West African country, Nigeria suffers from its fair share of cannabis cultivation, trafficking, and transshipment crime.
Over the years, both colonial and international pressures have caused Nigeria to implement very restrictive drug policy. As a coastal country, nations like the United States have a vested interest in diminishing drug trade routes that permeate the Nigerian border, work up North Africa, and reach portions of Southern Europe.
Modernly, Nigeria’s cannabis policy has been largely determined by colonial, international, and conservative governmental influences.
Cannabis, CBD, And Nigeria
Currently, cannabis is illegal for all purposes in Nigeria. Despite its illegal status, cannabis is widely grown all throughout the country and is a major source for the African continent’s cannabis supply. In terms of per capita consumption, Nigeria ranks eighth in the continent.
Interestingly, although cannabis has been present in parts of North Africa for centuries, most believe that Nigeria only picked up cannabis during the twentieth century. During this time period, both soldiers and seafaring foreigners returned from war conflict in North Africa and headed towards regions of West Africa.
Under British rule in the early nineteenth century, cannabis was outlawed under the 1935 Dangerous Drugs Act. Colonial rulers, doctors, and international figures all recommended the application of the death penalty for hemp cultivation. However, this law was exceedingly rarely enforced and overturned in the seventies.
Trafficking And Use Of Cannabis
By the sixties, the cultivation, trafficking, and use of cannabis was very widespread throughout Nigeria. Use became especially common among soldiers, who used the substance to suppress fear in the face of physical danger.
Just thirty years later, young men started to pick up the habit, which soon caused a nationwide conservative backlash against the substance.
In the mid nineties, Nigeria launched a marijuana eradication program known as “Operation Burn the Weeds”; nearly four thousand hectares fell before the onset of the twenty-first century. This caused ecological damage throughout the country.
Now, cannabis possession can result in a minimum punishment of twelve years prison time. In very severe trafficking or cultivation cases, individuals may face life imprisonment in overcrowded, physically unsafe conditions.
Often, individuals who live in poorer communities are targeted for drug crime punishments. Many struggling families rely on the illicit income generated by cannabis cultivation just to make ends meet, especially since there are few economic opportunities in the rest of the country.
It’s unlikely that Nigeria will implement substantive reform any time soon. The government is largely opposed to any attempted cannabis decriminalization, legalization, and penalty softening measures.