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A Research Project to Explore the Inside Views of Illicit Cannabis Farmers and Traders in Africa

Cannabis is a heavily criminalised plant in Nigeria. It can get its growers, traders and users long prison sentences. The National Drug Law Enforcement Act prescribes an imprisonment of not less than 15 years for possession and use of cannabis. Yet its very illegality ensures high prices and makes it lucrative to grow. For many, cannabis had become the main source of income, fetching far more than traditional crops, such as cocoa. These benefits, which need to be seen in the context of widespread poverty, unemployment and income precarity, were the main reason they engaged in these activities. For most rural dwellers cannabis farming served as a means of income generation and diversification to meet basic needs. Many of the farmers we interviewed told us that they used the proceeds of cannabis farming to feed their families, send their children to school, and provide shelter for their households. Contrary to popular views, it was not just uneducated and socially deviant individuals who were engaged in cannabis farming or trade. The interviewees included university graduates, traditional healers, village elders and other community members who otherwise lived largely law-abiding lives.