Demola Rewaju: A case for legalizing marijuana in Nigeria

by Demola Rewaju

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Cannabis is proven to be less harmful or addictive to people than many other things we abuse legally. In relative addictiveness, nicotine, heroin, alcohol, cocaine, caffeine and cannabis are ranked addictive in that order with cannabis being the least addictive.

No youth living in Nigeria can claim not to know the familiar whiff of Indian hemp or know people who use it recreationally. At a party or in the club, someone is bound to have some stashed in a bag or a pocket and it’s not only the guys, ladies these days smoke hemp without restriction. I remember hanging out with some friends and a girl in a bar one day and she brought out a wrap of skunk and lit it up like it was the most normal thing in the world. the bartender quickly told her to put it out and showed her somewhere at the back where she could freely indulge if she wanted. She did. Skunk is different from Mary. J by the way – a difference pointed out to me by an avid hemp smoker.

In entertainment, weed is a lifestyle for most artistes, actors and producers. Listen closely to their lyrics and hear how they usually exult the habit. 2Shotz confessed on national TV that just before entering the studio to record the hit song ‘In Case You Never Know’, he, Timaya and Terry G ‘got high’. I’ve seen a number of top artistes backstage getting one last high before they hit the stage. Femi Kuti doesn’t smoke (really?) but his Afrikan Shrine is the freest place in Lagos to smoke weed or skunk. 9ice once dedicated a track to weed-smoking, singing:

“Gimme di lighter/ Pass me the Ganja/ Make we roll up the Rizla/ Let the smoke up, let the smoke up and feel highryie”

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Oritsefemi also sang about it but the all time igbo singers of all times are those Danfo Drivers guys. In one of their tracks, they mention the purest marijuana types – sensimila. Weed usually comes with sticks (the stem of the leaves) and seeds (Snoop Lion once claimed he buys it pure, without sticks or seeds). When the dealer takes his time to remove the sticks and seeds, you’ve got sensimila, a Mexican word for ‘weed without sticks and seeds’. Tonto Dikeh (that chic as always) uploaded a pix to a social networking site with ‘red eyes’ (one of the symptoms of marijuana) with the words: “Mi smoke gaja mi smoke weed while my hatez smoke ma gossip.” One of Jesse Jags’ latest videos has several scenes of some ladies behind him rolling up a joint…that thing takes skill.

Some prefer to buy rolled-up joints and just light it up but others like to ‘mole’ it themselves. By moling it, they claim it helps them control what they mole per time since dealers only sell in two sizes – jumbo and small. The one Charly Boy presented to Wyclef Jean on national television was the jumbo size. The one Shabba Ranks smoked with Baba 70 was jumbo. Shabba was so messed up he could hardly get his acts together that night when he hit the stage and a journalist with Concord at the time said “that’ll teach him not to mess with cannabis that’s grown in Nigeria.”

My point? We’re being hypocritical when it comes to weed. I have the same attitude to this matter as well as homosexuality: it’s too late to stop them now. Many countries in Europe and states in America have passed laws that allow users to freely indulge in smoking hemp. Someone would probably say ‘it’s UnAfrican’ and we’ll point them to history – does anyone doubt Sango or those other gods were hemp-smokers? And the manner of some of our politicians is a sure sign that they are as addicted to marijuana as surely as any area boy is. Everyone talks about one former governor of Lagos state who used to smoke hemp at council meetings or excuse himself at public fora to go and take a smoke.

I was in my mid-teens when I heard ‘Daddy’ had run mad.

He and I were never close – he belonged to another crew and I was usually a loner at the time until I met a soulmate and brother, Pius Ojero. “Daddy’s” real name was Victor, he was from Akwa-Ibom and we had little contact until the day I heard he smoked weed, got high and never came down again. Someone said somewhere that the drug decreases male potency and shrinks the size of one’s winkie – for me in my twenties at the time, running wild and free after chics, Igbo was a no-no. I hadn’t smoked weed in my life up to that point and seeing that experience, I never have till date.

I say this without righteousness – I know several good men who have marijuana as their addiction. Some of them, I interact with on a fairly regular basis. At the university, I couldn’t get the image of a stark mad fellow out of my mind as some friends experimented and others perfected their weed-smoking skills. There was this guy who used to transport it from Lagos to Ado-Ekiti in a 25 litre jerrycan, until NDLEA caught him one day, seized his stash and made him pay heavily for it. Weed is freely sold in any city though – if you know where to get it. NDLEA offices in some states usually have it planted somewhere around their building for the purpose of identification but who knows…cops and soldiers are known to freely indulge in the habit.

I used to cook my meals with some other dudes until one day I got home hungry from campus, entered the kitchen and ate some of the beans I found in the pot. I slept from like 4pm till 2am, woke up with one kind of unearthly thirst that I’d never experienced before in my life. I had to drink water from the well when I discovered there was no ‘pure water’ in the house. I stormed their house at first light and quarreled with them seriously, explaining that I could easily have gone mad from their food poisoning.

Cannabis is proven to be less harmful or addictive to people than many other things we abuse legally. In relative addictiveness, nicotine, heroin, alcohol, cocaine, caffeine and cannabis are ranked addictive in that order with cannabis being the least addictive.

There’s the flipside to the argument though: legalising it would probably increase the already high irresponsibility in the manner people flaunt their use of it. More people who don’t indulge in it would probably get hooked. The health effects of cannabis include short term memory loss and I fear people will become sillier, coupled with other side effects of impaired motor skills (actions carried out more slowly) and the worst: increase in anxiety and paranoia.

Truth be told: I think marijuana is the most complex drug of all – not a depressant or stimulant or hallucinogen but it carries all their physiological and psychological attributes. Some ladies say it helps them stay away from sex some say it helps them become sexually active (guys say this too). Some say it helps them sleep, others say it keeps them awake. It makes some brothers laugh at dry jokes and some won’t crack a smile for Basketmouth or any of his brothers.

If people are going to indulge in it anyway, why not bring it up for discussion at some level? If you smoke it, it means your brain can carry it, just don’t abuse it. If you don’t, keep your body holy but don’t act holier-than-them.

I would never use it in any form (still seeing images of madness and a small winkie) but I think it is worthy of my 1258 words this morning. To answer the question title: no, marijuana smoking isn’t legalised yet but it is a matter of ‘when’, not ‘if’ marijuana will be legalised.

Have a great day and thanks for reading.

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Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

Comments (3)

  1. Best unbiased Article I have ever read by a Nigerian Concerning Marijuana, Thumb up Op.

  2. canabis,is no different from other plats,created by GOD to heal varities of sicknesses,i di support its legalization,if legalized,it means good money for government,more job creation,only we make sure the money realised from it should be used to educate the citizens…

  3. Demola, am impressed by the depth of your orientation as regards a free and open minded overview of ‘the substance’ marijuana. The thing is we are casually anticipating he who can cast first stone.

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cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail