Nigeria’s Strict Drug Policy Risks Falling Out of Step in West Africa

Nigeria’s Strict Drug Policy Risks Falling Out of Step in West Africa
An unidentified man smokes marijuana next to a no drugs sign at the New Afrika Shrine, Lagos, Nigeria, Feb. 6, 2011 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing series about national drug policies in various countries around the world.

For decades, Nigeria’s government has been at the forefront of drug enforcement in West Africa, leading the charge against trafficking in the region and treating it largely as a criminal issue at home. But the sale and use of illicit drugs domestically does not appear to be falling. On March 21, more than 13,000 pounds of cannabis were seized in the home and warehouse of a single individual in Benin City, according to local reports. The previous day, the governor of the state of Kwara called on the national government to issue a state of emergency over drug abuse. In an email interview, Gernot Klantschnig, a senior lecturer at the University of York and the author of several books and articles on drug policy and trafficking in Nigeria and other parts of Africa, discusses the problems that drugs pose in Nigeria, how the government’s strict response has evolved, and how that policy is viewed at home and abroad.

WPR: How significant of an issue is the use and trade of illicit drugs in Nigeria?

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