The Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, has advised the Federal Government to explore the opportunities in the cannabis business.
Akeredolu made the appeal during his visit to Thailand to see how cannabis is being used to make food and drugs.
Also on the trip was the chief executive officer of the National Drug Laws Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Muhammad Abdallah.
Akeredolu revealed this through his verified Twitter handle, @RotimiAkeredolu.
“We know that Ondo State is the hotbed of Cannabis cultivation in Nigeria. 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”.
The governor said his focus is to establish medical marijuana cultivation under the full supervision of the NDLEA.
He urged the federal government to “tap into this thriving industry for more jobs creation and economic diversification.”
Clarifying the governor’s statement on Tuesday, his spokesperson, Yemi Olowolabi, said Akeredolu’s call was part of his drive to industrialise Ondo and expand job opportunities in the state.
He said marijuana farming is, at the moment, a problem in the state because of routine clashes between the farmers and NDLEA agents.
“Other countries have taken advantage of its growth and we decided to explore the opportunity,” Mr Olowolabi said in a telephone interview with newsmen.
Akeredolu’s position on marijuana is shared by the former presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), Omoyele Sowere, who during the electioneering campaigns called for the legalisation of marijuana instead of burning them by NDLEA.
Many countries across the world are moving towards the legalisation of marijuana.
Countries like Australia, Puerto, Rico, Poland, Czech Republic, Croatia, and Macedonia allow the use of marijuana for medical purpose.
Also, there is legal freedom for the use of the weed in Uruguay, Spain, Slovenia, Netherlands, Jamaica, Columbia, and Chile.
But Nigeria and countries such as Japan and Malaysia continue to criminalise the use of the plant. This is in spite of the fact that marijuana is widely smoked across the countries.
According to the United Nations, Nigeria is ranked third among countries with the highest number of marijuana smokers, despite the strict law against its use.
Under the NDLEA Act, offenders convicted of smoking or trafficking marijuana could serve up to 15 years or more jail term.
As reported by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in 2018, Ondo State is one of the six states in Nigeria where cannabis is cultivated in large quantity. Several attempts by the NDLEA to eradicate marijuana smoking in the state have not yielded the desired results due to its affordability and availability in the state.