The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) says 10.6 million people, representing 10.8 per cent of the population, used cannabis in the past year.
A statement from NAFDAC on Sunday said the Director-General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, disclosed this during the launch and dissemination of the 2022 Annual Report of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) and Precursors Report 2022.
She said the report revealed that cannabis is the most commonly used drug, with the average age of initiation of cannabis use among the general population put at 19 years.
She said: "Cannabis use was seven times higher among men (18.8 per cent among men vs. 2.6 per cent of women), while the gender gap in the non-medical use of pharmaceutical opioids (such as tramadol) was less marked", she said. The NAFDAC boss said Nigeria would not support the trend of legalization of cannabis for non-medical use as Nigeria lacks the financial capacity to fight cultivation, production and illegal use of the substance.
While saying that the non-medical use of cannabis, contravenes the United Nations Single Convention of 1961, which classifies cannabis as a highly addictive substance, she said the Nigeria Indian Hemp Act as well as the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA Act prohibits the cultivation, production, distribution, sales and use of cannabis and its extracts or derivatives for medical or non-medical purposes.
She said the NAFDAC, the NDLEA, the Nigeria Customs Service and other stakeholders in the health sector, had promised to collaborate in fighting against illicit drug production, trafficking, and use. She said narcotics and psychotropic substances are indispensable for the relief of pain and suffering, adding that they are, however, classified because of the potential for abuse and the need for medical use of the substance.
According to her, one of the control objectives is to ensure availability solely for medical and scientific uses while minimizing the possibility of diversion to illicit channels and abuse. Executive Chairman, NDLEA, Buba Marwa, decried the upsurge in abuse of cannabis amongst Nigerian youths, saying it has attendant negative effects on the society. He said the NDLEA conceptualized War Against Drug Abuse WADA in 2021 to address the issue.
Marwa, represented by Mrs. Victoria Ekase, said NAFDAC had been ensuring that controlled drug essential for human survival were made available for use where necessary in line with the requirements of INCB,
The Comptroller-General of the NCS, Hameed Alli, pledged the loyalty and support of the customs service in the task of ridding the country of illicit drug.