The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC, has distanced itself from news making the rounds that the organisation called for the decriminalisation of cannabis (locally known as Igbo) in Nigeria.
UNODC made this known during its visit to the Senate Committee on Drugs and Narcotics, Abuja, where it made a presentation at the public hearing on ‘The need to check the rising menace of pharmaceutical drugs abuse amongst youth in Nigeria’ on March 26, 2018’.
According to Sylvester Atere, the Office Outreach and Communications Officer, the news totally misquoted the UNODC views and warned that this could jeopardize its long-existing relationship with Nigeria.
He explained that, following an 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 the Board urged all governments to:
(a) Gather data on the prevalence of drug-use disorders and the accessibility and utilisation of treatment;
(b) Invest in making treatment and rehabilitation evidence-based;
(c) Allocate sufficient resources to treatment and rehabilitation, the two major components of demand reduction;
(d) Pay particular attention to special population groups;
(e) Share, nationally and internationally, best practices and build capacity;
(f) Stimulate research into new interventions.Atere stated that when being asked specifically on cannabis, he said “our 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.”