The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has denied the reports making the rounds that the organization called for the legalisation of cannabis in Nigeria.
In a statement Thursday in Abuja, the UNODC said during its visit to Senate Committee on Drugs and Narcotics, Abuja at which it made a presentation at the public hearing on ‘The need to check the rising menace of pharmaceutical drugs abuse amongst youth in Nigeria’ on March 26, it never said what was reported in the media.
The media (not 360nobs) had quoted Harsheth Kaur Virk, the Project Officer of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime in Nigeria as saying that the UN approved the usage of the plant for medical purposes; and has now urged Nigeria to legalise its use for the same purpose.
She was quoted to have said: “Cannabis is a miracle drug allowed for medical purposes by the United Nations, but not for recreational purposes. Nigeria as a sovereign Nation has its stringent laws against it but international conventions of the UN have approved it for medical purposes based on outcome of researches conducted to that effect by globally recognized institutes.
Aside cannabis, recreational users of other addictive drugs by UN recommendation. should not be criminalised, but rehabilitated. The Drugs and Crime office of the UN sees addictive drugs users as people who are sick, in need of treatment, care and rehabilitation.”
However, the Outreach and Communications Officer, Sylvester Atere, disclosed that the news totally misquoted the UNODC views and warned that this could jeopardize the long existing relationship with Nigeria.
Atere said: “To keep the record straight, on invitation by the Senate Committee on Drugs and Narcotics, UNODC made a presentation at the public hearing and reiterated the following recommendations contained in 2017 International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) report, where the Board urges all governments to:
(a) Gather data on prevalence of drug-use disorders and the accessibility and utilisation of treatment;
(b) Invest in making treatment and rehabilitation evidence-based;
(c) Allocate sufficient resources to treatment and rehabilitation, the two major components of demand reduction;
(d) Pay particular attention to special population groups;
(e) Share, nationally and internationally, best practices and build capacity;
(f) Stimulate research into new interventions.”
On being asked specifically on cannabis, he said “our representative clearly stated that legalisation of cannabis is not supported by the three UN international drug conventions (Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961 as amended by the 1972 Protocol; Convention on Psychotropic Substances, 1971; UN convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances 1988). The UNODC did not urge Nigeria to legalise cannabis.”