Not surprised at the rash of responses, largely criticisms, that have trailed Omoyele Sowore’s proposition to enable the export of marijuana should he be elected President.

I think we are always too much in haste, in the public space, to attack any idea that does not conform with our understanding, make jest of an idea or repudiate it, whereas what we should do is to first pause, consider it, meditate and engage with it, no matter how silly and laughable it might sound.

I might not be surprised at the rash of responses, but I am surprised at the limited knowledge about the matter as placed on the table by many of the more vociferous critics.

Many appear to still be caught up in the old smoke which only sees marijuana through the squinted eyes of drug abuse.

Marjiuana has since moved beyond that narrow confines of recreational use/abuse. As controversial as the legalisation of its use, especially for medical and recreational purpose is, even in the West, there has been little dispute about the many uses to which the plant can be put. There is little doubt that marijuana is a ‘resource’ that can be explored for a variety of purposes.

Some claim marijuana has over 50,000 uses. A long list of some of those are readily available. It has been found useful in the production of a long list – some clothing, hard materials for bags, ropes, food and beverages, fibreboards, plastics, cases, fuel, chemical clean-up, not to talk of medicine.

It is the possible industrial use of marijuana that should be of interest to us. Where we see a comparative advantage or opportunity to be first movers, we should seize it.

I might not be of the Sowore school, as I disagree with the notion of simply bagging raw materials and exporting for cash. Instead we should be refining and putting them to secondary and tertiary uses, possibly exporting finished products, having taken care of this under-explored local market.

Approaching the marijuana business with an industrial mind-set, while not barring small-holders is what we should consider. We must first agree which of the uses we seek to explore, build value chains around them, then build a cultivation table, ensuring that purchase for purpose of refining will be more profitable for the farmer than fuelling the abuse market.

There are many legal products – gum, codeine-based drugs, etc. being abused. So, legalisation is not the major issue for me. The issue of drug abuse is one with wider dimensions way beyond the legalisation or non-legalisation of the use of marijuana. Issues need not be conflated.

Again, this idea is not new or peculiar. At the level of policy recommendations, it’s one that has been on the table. At least, in some policy circles I have had the privilege to be involved with.

By the way, Ekiti, where I have roots, is not the leader in cultivation. Reports suggest the Ondo-Edo-Kogi axis, where I also have roots, as lead-cultivators.

As to who produces the best weed, we might need to send stuff to a laboratory to confirm, except we can trust the judgement of those who could possibly be too high in the process of experimentation.


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