The weed of money – The Nation Newspaper

MONEY has a peculiar smell, especially when it is mint fresh. The smell is soothing to the nose. It does not emit the smell that can make you puke when the currency is torn and dirty. New notes are a joy to behold. They do not fill your pocket nor make you feel as if you are carrying a load. But not so old notes which make your pocket heavy.
Money comes from different sources. We earn money from the work we do; we also make money from trading. We equally make money from the disposal of human waste and from the export of commodities in which nations have comparative advantage. The sources are endless. Money making does not come cheap. It comes with a lot of thinking and planning. What some see as sources of money making may not hold an attraction for others.
There was a time we were exporting cocoa, palm kernel, groundnut and other crops from which we derived huge foreign earnings. Sadly, these days, we export crude and import it back as refined product to sell at N145 per litre to consumers. What we make from this venture is only known to the sharks in the oil sector who parlay the gain into their own use, while the nation is bleeding. The country needs foreign earnings badly in these hard times in order to provide schools, hospitals, roads and other amenities to make life better for the people.
Money rules the world and those who have it are lords over others. The developed economies look down on countries like ours because we do not have their kind of resources. These countries have no qualms when it comes to making money. There is nothing  they cannot dabble into for the sake of money. Whether legal or illegal, to them, the venture is good as long as it yields money. With their technological know-how, they can turn virtually anything into money. Some of them have turned what was once considered illegal into a source of making money.
I am talking about weed, or if you like, marijuana or cannabis sativa, which is popularly known as Indian hemp. For ages, Indian hemp has been used in the making of hair pomade and as an ingredient in some foods and drugs. But Indian hemp smoking was frowned at in many countries. Those caught were made to face the law. The situation has changed as these countries have legalised the smoking of weed. The latest country to do so was Canada, which last November, approved Indian hemp for ‘’recreational use’’. Whatever that means!
But because they rule the world, they can get away with anything. The developing economies like to toe their line because we think whatever they do is right. Indian hemp is a banned substance in Nigeria. It is an offence to grow or traffic it. The late maverick musician Fela Anikulapo-Kuti called it vegetable, describing it as a stimulant which energises the system. He was once arrested for being in possession of the substance. The police claimed that he chewed it when they came for him in order to evade arrest.  To prove their case against the Abami Eda, they induced him to defecate.
Fela defecated and defecated, yet the police could not trace the weed in his faeces. This led Fela to sing Expensive Shit. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then. The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) hangs around every nook and cranny of the country, including the sea and airports and borders looking for those carrying Indian hemp and other hard drugs. Soon, very soon, it may no longer be an offence to be in possession of Indian hemp, courtesy of NDLEA and the  Ondo State government, which are collaborating to make the weed a foreign earner. The love of money can lead man to do anything indeed. Apparently taking a cue from what is happening in some parts of the world, Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and NDLEA boss Muhammad Abdullah are pushing for converting Indian hemp into a  foreign earner to boost the economy. In these days of diversifying the economy, their proposal sounds like music in the ear. At a meeting in Thailand to learn how to turn Indian hemp into a money-spinner, they made a case for Nigeria’s adoption of the substance to its benefit.
“We all know that Ondo State is the hot bed of cannabis cultivation in Nigeria. We know how to grow it and it thrives well in the Sunshine State. With an estimated value of $145 billion in 2025, we will be shortchanging ourselves if we failed to tap into the Legal Marijuana Market. Our focus now is medical marijuana cultivation in controlled plantations under the full supervision of the NDLEA. I strongly implore the Federal Government to take this seriously as it is a thriving industry that will create thousands of jobs for our youths and spur economic diversification’’, said Akeredolu.
Abdullah noted : ‘’We are here to study how cannabis can be of more advantage to Ondo State and Nigeria at large just the way the Thailand government has done. The current trend in the world is to look into the advantages of cannabis in the making of foods and drugs’’. If the developed economies had not taken the lead, would we be thinking along this line? I do not think so. We would have thought twice before going this way because we do not know how they will feel about our move.
Do we have what it takes to check the abuse of the system when Ondo starts the production of legal marijuana for the food and drug industry? I am sorry to say this :  we are good at copying the developed economies, but we lack the capacity in addressing the problems that may arise therefrom. This may be a good move because it is going to bring in money. And money made from human waste disposal, according to a Yoruba adage, does not smell. So, the money made from the planned Indian hemp export will not reek of the weed. Lobatan.  But we need to think the proposal through so that it does not become an albatross at the end of the day.

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