Oct 7, 2013

NIGERIAN INDIAN HEMP ACT

An Act to make the planting, cultivation, importation, etc. of Indian hemp an offence and to make provisions for other related matters. [1966 No. 19. 1984 No. 27.]
The use of hard drugs in Nigeria is prohibited by law. News reports are filled with various suspects who are paraded by the police for being in possession of these criminal drugs. A common drug reportedly used in Nigeria is what is widely known as marijuana. Many Nigerians know the drug is prohibited but most do not know that there actually exist a legislation that prohibits its use in Nigeria. This article gives an introduction to the Nigerian Indian Hemp Act.

By virtue of the act , "Indian hemp" means-
(a) any plant or part of a plant of the genus cannabis; or
(b) the separated resin, whether crude or purified, obtained from any plant of the
genus cannabis; or
(c) any preparation containing any such resin,
by whatever name that plant, part, resin or preparation may be calIed.

The law provides that any person who knowingly plants or cultivates any plant of the genus cannabis shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to be sentenced either to death or to imprisonment for a term of not less than twenty-one years and anyone found guilty of the unlawful importation or sale of Indian hemp shall be liable on conviction to be sentenced to imprisonment for a term of not less than twenty-one years. It should be noted that anyone who imports or sells marijuana for medical reasons is however exempted from this law. Similarly, anyone found guilty of the exportation of Indian hemp shall be guilty of an offence, and liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of not less than twenty-one years.
Indian Hemp smokers are however not exempted from the law as any person who-
(a) smokes any Indian hemp; or
(b) knowingly has any Indian hemp in his possession,
shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of not
less than four years without the option of a fine, if however, such person is not more than seventeen years of age, he shall, in addition to twenty-one strokes of the cane, be sentenced to two years in a borstal or such similar institution or to a fine of N200.
Also, any person who, knowingly has in his possession, any pipe or other utensil for use in connection with the smoking of Indian hemp shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of not less than five years. Owners of premises who also permits his property to be used for the smoking, sale or preparation of Indian Hemp shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of not less than ten years without the option of a fine and anyone who assists in the commission of the offence shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of not less than ten years, without the option of a fine.
Where any person is convicted of any offence under this Act, all articles (including
any vehicle or vessel) used by him in connection with the offence shall be forfeited; and where any such forfeited article is a pipe or other utensil for use in connection with the smoking of Indian hemp, the court may order it to be destroyed.

The law was signed into law on 31st March, 1966 and since that time there has been numerous changes in the global view of Indian hemp, for instance many countries have decriminalized the possession of small quantities of cannabis, particularly in North America, South America, and Europe. In the United Sates, it is illegal on the Federal level but many states have declared it to be legal on the state level, including using it for medicinal purposes. Whether Nigeria should decriminalize the use of Indian Hemp or legalise its sale is still an issue for future debates.

Adedunmade Onibokun Esq.
Adedunmade

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