By Bennett OghifoÂ
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)Â has distanced itself from the news making the rounds that it called for the decriminalisation of Cannabis in Nigeria.
In a statement, recently in Abuja, the UNODC denied saying it was okay to legalise cannabis in the country, during its visit toÂ Senate Committee on Drugs and Narcotics, Abuja at which it made a presentation at the public hearing on â€˜The need to check the rising menace of pharmaceutical drugs abuse among youth in Nigeriaâ€™.
UNODC stated that it never said what was reported in the media. According to the Outreach and Communications Officer, Mr. Sylvester Atere, the news totally misquoted the UNODC views and warned that this could jeopardise the long existing relationship with Nigeria.
â€œTo 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 theÂ Board urges all Governments to:
(a)Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Gather data on prevalence of drug-use disorders and the accessibility and utilization of treatment;
(b)Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Invest in making treatment and rehabilitation evidence-based;
(c)Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Allocate sufficient resources to treatment and rehabilitation, the two major components of demand reduction;
(d)Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Pay particular attention to special population groups;
(e)Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Share, nationally and internationally, best practices and build capacity;
(f)Stimulate research into new interventions.
On being asked specifically on cannabis, he said â€œour 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.â€