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Move to legalize Indian hemp for medicinal, economic reasons not smoking — Reps

Spokesperson of House of Representatives, Hon. Benjamin Kalu, has clarified that the move by the House to legalise the use of Indian hemp in the country is not to encourage smoking among the populace but for industrial and pharmaceutical reasons, as well as for the purpose of boosting production of over 50 products.

Describing Indian hemp as one of the products needed across the world, the Bende federal constituency representative said if legalised, the agricultural produce can help in production paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics, beverages, personal care products, fuel among others.

Speaking on Tuesday on a radio programme, Ben Kalu Mandate streamed live by ABN TV and Radio, he said legalising cannabis is not a leeway to encourage smoking, maintaining that as a born-again Christian, he has not engaged in smoking or any other form of intoxicant since birth and will not encourage it.

He revealed that according to verified market research, the global industrial hemp market in 2019 was valued at $5bn, saying it is projected to reach $36bn in 2026.

While adding that Nigeria could be a big exporter of cannabis if the right steps are taken, Hon. Kalu urged Nigerians to apply critical thinking to innovations instead of attack.

While adding that other countries are legalising the growing of industrial hemp, he advised that Nigeria must not be left behind.

In line with UN Single Treaty, he added that the product will be limited to few people, saying unauthorized access will attract sanctions.

Hon. Kalu insisted that at a time when the entire world is moving away from fossil fuel, transiting into alternative power sources to power vehicles and others, Nigeria must not be left behind.

On the medicinal benefit of cannabis, he stated that the World Health Organization, WHO December last year recommended that the United Nations, UN should remove cannabis from schedule 4 of 1961 single convention on narcotic drugs and be classified as a therapeutic and medicinal substance.

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