BusinessDay

Ondo eyes $345b Cannabis market, advocates legalisation

The government of Ondo State is making a bold call for legalisation of Cannabis cultivation in Nigeria, as the state wants to benefit from the Cannabis industry, which has been valued at $345 billion in a new report by New Frontier Data (NFD) exclusively made available to BusinessDay.

The state has been a frequent spot for raids by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), where Cannabis farms are regularly set on fire, and the products – marijuana, hemp, cannabis frequently mixed up because of confusion and low enlightenment to differentiate – are seized and said to be destroyed.

“We all know that Ondo State is the hot bed of cannabis cultivation in Nigeria,” read a tweet from Governor Rotimi Akeredolu’s verified Twitter handle @RotimiAkeredolu. “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 market is however much larger than the $145 billion the governor estimates, going by the new report by NFD.

In another tweet, he stated “Our focus now is Medical Marijuana cultivation in controlled plantations under the full supervision of the @ndlea_nigeria. 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.”

In a three part series, BusinessDay’s Agribusiness Insight page explored the need for Nigeria to rethink its hard stance on Cannabis, highlighting the many legal ways the stigmatized crop can be put to productive use in the country.

“Three of the world’s top 10 cannabis-consuming nations are in Africa, highlighting both the importance of cannabis reform and related business opportunities throughout the region,” said Giadha Aguirre de Carcer, CEO & founder, New Frontier Data, in an emailed comment to BusinessDay. NFD states on its website that it takes no stance on the legalization of cannabis, rather, to provide data that will be used to make informed decisions in the growing industry.

In healthcare, Medical cannabis is used to reduce nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy for cancer patients, to improve appetite in people with HIV/AIDS, and to treat chronic pain and muscle spasms.

In Industrial Use (which applies strictly to hemp), Cannabis sativa cultivars are used for fibres due to their long stems. It refers to any industrial or foodstuff product that is not intended for use as a drug. Many countries regulate limits for the psychoactive compound (THC) concentrations in products labelled as hemp, making its industrial usage possible.

Cannabis for industrial uses is valuable in numerous commercial products, especially as fibre ranging from paper, cordage, construction material and textiles in general, to clothing. Hemp is described as stronger and longer-lasting than cotton. It is also a useful source of foodstuffs (hemp milk, hemp seed, hemp oil) and biofuels.

 

CALEB OJEWALE