Is CBD Oil (Cannabidiol) Legal In Nigeria? Daily Law Tips (Tip 569) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LLM. ACIArb(UK).
According to Harvard University’s publication, “‘CBD’ stands for cannabidiol. It is the second most prevalent of the active ingredients of cannabis (marijuana). While CBD is an essential component of medical marijuana, it is derived directly from the hemp plant, which is a cousin of the marijuana plant. While CBD is a component of marijuana (one of hundreds), by itself it does not cause a “high.” According to a report from the World Health Organisation, “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.” While CBD oil is said to be very curative and already being sold quietly in shops and online platforms across Nigeria, there are outstanding are serious legal questions. Is CBD oil legal in Nigeria? Can it be imported into Nigeria? Is it a crime to advertise, distribute, use, sell, buy or deal on CBD oil in Nigeria? These questions are very important, since ignorance of law is not an excuse in Nigeria.
Furthermore, Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of a class of diverse chemical compounds that acts on cannabinoid receptors, also known as the endocannabinoid system in cells that alter neurotransmitter release in the brain. It is one of some 113 identified cannabinoids in cannabis plants and accounts for up to 40% of the plant’s extract.
In Nigeria, there is a 1966 federal legislation that makes the planting, cultivation, importation, etc. of Indian hemp an offence as well as other related activities. The said law is the “Indian Hemp Act” which commenced operation since 31 March 1966 and is still in operation. This said Act, defines Indian Hemp to include the following;
1. any plant or part of a plant of the genus cannabis; or
2. the separated resin, whether crude or purified, obtained from any plant of the genus cannabis; or
3. any preparation containing any such resin, by whatever name that plant, part, resin or preparation may be called.
Clearly by the definition above, Indian Hemp includes any plant under the family of Cannabis (Marijuana) or any chemical/extract from such plant, whether in raw form or refined (purified/packaged). Generally, Indian Hemp and its chemicals/oil are Illegal in Nigeria. So, CBD oil, marijuana gum or its coffee, snack, lotion, spice, wax, paste, tea or any substance are generally illegal in Nigeria.
The punishment for knowingly planting or cultivating such plant is death or imprisonment for not less than 21 years. Importation or exportation of Indian hemp is an offence punishable with imprisonment for not less than 21 years and without an option to pay fine. Possessing, having or using Indian hemp is an offence punishable with imprisonment for not less than 4 years and without an option to pay fine. Being in possession of utensils and objects used in smoking Indian Hemp is an offence and this is punishable with not less than 5 years imprisonment. Helping, assisting or being an occupier of a property being used to sell, smoke or prepare Indian hemp is also an offence, it is punishable with ten years imprisonment without an option of fine. Any device, equipment, article or vehicle used in commission of any of the above offences, must be forfeited to government and where such are utensils or pipes for smoking Indian hemp, government can destroy such.
However, it is important to note that medical preparation of Indian hemp is exempted and lawful, so far as such does not contravene another federal law known as the Dangerous Drugs Act, 1935. By the Dangerous Drugs Act, commencing from 1st July 1935, there is regulation of importation, exportation, manufacture, sale and use of opium and other dangerous drugs. Medically prepared India hemp (including “CBD” oil) is legal and lawful in Nigeria, so far as it is medically dispensed by a member of the Medical or Dental Practitioner or a veterinary surgeon with license. The President of Nigeria has powers to make regulations for production, prescription, possession, sale and use medically prepared Indian hemp and any other dangerous drugs. Hence, CBD oil and Indian hemp are generally illegal but medically prepared CBD oil or Indian hemp substance are legal, lawful and allowed but must be prescribed by medical doctors or veterinary doctors.
1. Sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 12 and 15 of the India Hemp Act, 1966.
2. Sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8(b), of Dangerous Drugs Act, 1935.
3. Peter Grinspoon, Cannabidiol (CBD) — What We Know and What We Don’t (Harvard Health Publishing, 24 August 2018) Accessed 16 April 2020 <https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/cannabidiol-cbd-what-we-know-and-what-we-dont-2018082414476>
5. Supreme Court’s decision (on issue of whether the Cannabis sativa is Indian hemp) in the case of OKEWU v. FRN (2012) LPELR-7834(SC)
6. Court of Appeal’s decision (on issue of whether the Cannabis sativa is Indian hemp) in the case of NWADIEM v. FRN (2018) LPELR-44506(CA).
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