Nigeria isn’t ready to legalise marijuana: a scientist’s viewPosted by On


Nigeria has been debating whether to legalise marijuana. Its House of Representatives is set to discuss a bill to that effect. The Conversation Africa’s Wale Fatade asked Olakunle Idowu, a Professor of pharmaceutical chemistry, to explain the science behind the debate.

Is there any scientific basis for legalising marijuana?

The plant, Cannabis sativa, or Cannabis indica, contains several phytochemicals – cannabinoids – with a variety of pharmacological actions. Its multiple effects are the reason some people use marijuana and also the reason others feel it should not be legalised. While it gives some a pleasurable effect, the active doses also have several side effects.

A particular phytochemical – delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – found in the leaves, flower and resin produced by the plant, is responsible for the euphoria that users of marijuana experience. It reacts with specific receptors in the brain. This “high” is sometimes associated with addiction and crime.

On the other hand, cannabidiol (CBD), also found in the plant, is a compound that does not interact with that receptor. It does not affect a person’s mental state, but has properties that are shown to be useful for managing anxiety and epilepsy.

Cannabidiol oil is commercially available in some pharmacies in Nigeria. It is sold as a dietary supplement.

To complicate the picture, the potential effects of the chemicals on people depend on the plant variety, the cultivar. The cultivar that is grown as industrial…

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Nigeria has been debating whether to legalise marijuana. Its House of Representatives is set to discuss a bill to that effect. The Conversation Africa’s Wale Fatade asked Olakunle Idowu, a Professor of pharmaceutical chemistry, to explain the science behind the debate.

Is there any scientific basis for legalising marijuana?

The plant, Cannabis sativa, or Cannabis indica, contains several phytochemicals – cannabinoids – with a variety of pharmacological actions. Its multiple effects are the reason some people use marijuana and also the reason others feel it should not be legalised. While it gives some a pleasurable effect, the active doses also have several side effects.

A particular phytochemical – delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – found in the leaves, flower and resin produced by the plant, is responsible for the euphoria that users of marijuana experience. It reacts with specific receptors in the brain. This “high” is sometimes associated with addiction and crime.

On the other hand, cannabidiol (CBD), also found in the plant, is a compound that does not interact with that receptor. It does not affect a person’s mental state, but has properties that are shown to be useful for managing anxiety and epilepsy.

Cannabidiol oil is commercially available in some pharmacies in Nigeria. It is sold as a dietary supplement.

To complicate the picture, the potential effects of the chemicals on people depend on the plant variety, the cultivar. The cultivar that is grown as industrial…



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