The sale of original marijuana in some countries is fast becoming a major source of revenue. DAMILOLA TIAMIYU examines the growing prospects of the cannabis business and the downsides
Marijuana is classified as a hard drug and banned in most parts of the world, even with its reported medicinal properties. But some countries have legalised it for some specific uses.
United States National Institute of Health said that people had used marijuana, or cannabis, to treat ailments for at least 3,000 years. However, the Food and Drug Administration has not deemed marijuana safe or effective in the treatment of any medical condition; although cannabidiol, a substance that is present in marijuana, received approval in June 2018 as a treatment for some types of epilepsy.
Over the years, research has yielded results to suggest that marijuana may be of benefit in the treatment of some health conditions.
Medical marijuana could be used for treating pain and inflammation, and possibly even soothing mental illness and addictions.
There are also claims that it grows and darkens the hair, hence it is added in hair products.
Business and Employment Opportunities
John-Paul Iwuoha, a writer, is one of the new generation of entrepreneurs that see Africa’s challenges as lucrative business opportunities. According to him, a growing market for cannabis is emerging, as more countries legalise the drug for medical and recreational uses.
The global legal cannabis market is projected to be worth $272bn by 2028, according to a report by Barclays.
Estimates show that Africa is the world’s largest producer and consumer of cannabis, mostly illegally. Currently, Lesotho, South Africa and Zimbabwe are among the few countries on the continent that have so far legalised the cultivation of medical marijuana. Analysts estimate that South Africa is now Africa’s largest market for medicinal cannabis, with an industry valued at $667m.
A story published by The Guardian on ‘How Nigeria can earn $145bn through legal marijuana’ explained that Nigeria would lose a major part of her revenue by failing to key into the prospects of the marijuana business.
It read in part, “Ondo State Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu has warned that Nigeria could lose $145bn by 2025 over its failure to key into the global legal marijuana market.”
Cannabis can skyrocket the revenue generation in Nigeria, only if it is legalised. With the fortunes of oil waning, the country needs other sources revenue. So, venturing into cannabis farming seems like an option.
It could also help in the area of employment. By setting up marijuana plantations, unemployed Nigerians could be engaged, thereby reducing the rate of poverty in the country.
Unati Maziwane, a physician who prescribed it at some point, had to quit because of the addiction.
“I quit not because it’s not working anymore. First, the popular cannabis ingredients prescribed are tetrahydrocannabinol (psycho stimulant and gives a high) and cannabidiol (non-psychostimulant).
“Young people love the former, THC. It has its value in anxiety, insomnia and depression, the commonest reasons we prescribe it. One thing I didn’t like is that the young population demanded a higher percentage.
“Unfortunately for them, I wasn’t a push-over and I strictly started prescription from age 25 and above. I would prescribe the lowest THC percentage with CBD. CBD works wonders in muscle spasms in people with multiple sclerosis and of course in depression, insomnia, cancer patients with loss of appetite, anxiety and other conditions.
“Again, medical cannabis is our last resort, but patients claim they want ‘more natural stuff’.
“I’m still a big fan of CBD. Really good for inflammation. My geriatric client population loves it. Truly made sense in arthritis.”
Programme officer at Hellen Keller International, Mrs Kabia Unidiatu, does not need a test or survey to know how dangerous cannabis is.
“I see young people who are using it act and how they eventually end. This drug opens up the channels and pumps in the brain, causing it to work excessively and eventually leading to latent memory and other mental disorders. Just because someone said it is profitable does not mean we as Africans should engage in a drug that is dangerous.”
Cannabis, though useful in the medical line, is still a dangerous weed when abused.