The Ondo State Government has said it is not yet legal to cultivate cannabis, popularly known as Indian hemp, in the state.
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, who was in Thailand last week in company with the chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Muhammad Abdallah, for a programme tagged, ‘Medicinal Cannabis Extract Development’, said the state government would aim to take advantage of the commercial and medicinal value of the plant to create jobs for the youth.
He asked the Federal Government to support the growing of cannabis in large quantities in Ondo, saying Indian hemp business would help boost the state Internally Generated Revenue.
Akeredolu, who has come under attack since his comments, warned that cannabis cultivation had yet to be legalised.
Speaking through the Commissioner for Information, Mr Yemi Olowolabi, the governor said the state government was in the process of making it legal.
He said the collaboration with the NDLEA was an indication of Federal Government’s consent to the cultivation of the crop in the state.
He said, “We are still at the elementary stage of this matter. Before we legalise cannabis growing in this state, it has to pass through certain procedures and we have begun the procedures.
“The assistance we seek from the Federal Government is the collaboration we already have with the NDLEA, which is an agency of the government.
“Since we are dealing with the NDLEA, we are dealing with the Federal Government.”
Efforts made by our correspondent to reach the Commander of the NDLEA in the state, Mr Haruna Gagara, for comments on the development were unsuccessful.
However, a senior officer in the command, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told our correspondent that Indian hemp was still illegal in the state until the government officially legalised it.
He said, “As far as we are concerned, cannabis cultivation and business is illegal but if the state or Federal Government wants to legalise it, they would carry us along. But for now, nothing like that has happened.”