I’ve been stalling on writing this article because I wanted to address the issue with a sense of understanding; as an individual growing up in a society with diverse ‘dank‘ [South African slang for marijuana] use and simultaneously a society with outdated traditions.

Growing up in Nigeria, there’s a certain stigma around consuming dank whether for recreation or medical purposes. As one who uses dank, you’re considered an Agbero [a thug, hoodlum, someone without a purpose]. With this mentality, I was programmed to think anyone who takes dank is a ‘lost cause‘. Now that I understand life a bit better, I’ve come to realize that mum and dad lied to us. Like with everything else, we’ve simply been painted false realities to keep us from doing what our small minded society has termed immoral or ‘against the Lord’ for no logical reason.

Pappy J sold in Lagos, Nigeria.

The thought that one could be judged so deeply for consuming a natural growing herb is quite baffling. The popular argument that dank use could cause detriment of the brain, lung and psyche holds little ground in this matter because if that were the case, it would be up to the user to decide whether or not to take the risk, just like it is with alcohol and tobacco use. Besides, it’s even been shown that marijuana actually reverses the lung-damaging effects of tobacco [according to this article by Business Insider]

In fact, a lot of experts worldwide have been changing their minds about marijuana due to it’s numerous medical uses. The plant contains 2 very important properties, the well-known tetrahydrocannabinol [THC] – a very effective pain reliever, and cannabidiol [CBD] – which has many interesting interactions with the brain; most still unstudied.

For example, studies suggest that marijuana can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and could possibly stop cancer from spreading.  These are just some of the known medical uses of marijuana. The shocking thing is that only about 6% of studies have yet been carried out on the benefits of this plant.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not painting weed as something we must all indulge in. But Africa needs to understand that our world is changing quickly and we can’t just hold on to old beliefs without question. We should be able to take conscious individual steps to mature our society, and that involves at least considering things that could potentially bring about growth while removing unnecessary traditions.

Malawi Gold via CNN Africa.

A friend of mine said and I completely agree, that

‘Weed should be legalized. It’s not what’s destroying the continent.’

According to a UN report, over 10,000 tons of marijuana is being produced in Africa each year and that’s just what’s on the books. Anyone of us could guess that the actual figure is a lot more. Imagine the income the continent would make by meeting worldwide marijuana demands for medical purposes alone, especially with the taxes that come with transactions and innovation of dank.  A lot of the low-income Africans who already grow and deal this substance on the streets anyway could also make a proper living from trading dank in compliance to the nation’s law.

Dank does have its negatives, like the fact that it’s considered addictive, with one in 10 users becoming dependent. In comparison however, nicotine is still far worse. I believe that when marijuana is used creatively, it can be a tool for inspiring ideas. My first company was inspired by a smoking session with a friend. We conversed freely on ideas full of creative passion, and I decided on a path which eventually led to Baroque Age. It was a satisfying eureka moment, almost like my mind had unlocked a new dimension.

Akin, a writer for More Branches shares,

‘The hemp culture.
You’re involved: either you got family or friends that blow the tree.
For some reason hemp became a whole important vice.
Letting strangers feel like neighbors.
It’s strange I’m writing this just around the same time I feel I’ve had enough to smoke.
I won’t just come to the conclusion that hemp became a way out. But I can for sure say it helped ease the tension.
I for one confess, that my younger days would have been a lot more harder to get through without the trees.
Top down everybody smoking, you seen the sights?
1000 fellas blowing trees in harmony, I have my doubt about alcohol bringing that kind bonding.
Smoking never came cheap though, we’ve had to sacrifice so much.
Smoking gave that notion you was out of control, something like you been rolling with the wrong bunch, Peer pressure they say.
But I swear I’ve smoked so much in my short life. Might say its an art I’ve perfected.
It’s become a thing of passion.’

Cannabis Plantation in Northern Moroccan Larache via CNN Africa.

Not so long ago we saw the rise of the great Fela, a proud consumer of dank who shook the political scene and pioneered an entire generation with his sound. Still, we insist that marijuana is only used by lazy unproductive bums. I can’t understand why we’re so judgmental.

‘Rumor has it that many inventions are products of people who found freedom beyond equilibrium balance.’ – Richard Ogundiya, Head Of Operarions at More Branches.

I call the New Age of Africa ‘a generation of Felas.’

Empowered in our individuality and awareness, we’re more confident than we’ve ever been to fight the negatives of our African environment and reach a more conscious purpose. There’s a will to try new things with a more open-minded approach.

‘Taking the risk is necessary.’ – Sammy

New Afrika Shrine via Wikipedia.

In Lagos, Nigeria, there are dank districts in almost every neighborhood; all providing a mini-sustainable economy for the lower parts of society. Popular districts like ‘New Fela Shrine‘, show the positives of weed culture. The young, old, educated and illiterate all come together peacefully to take part in a culture shunned by society.

Some African countries [ Zimbabwe, South Africa, Ghana ] have already decided to leverage the growing worldwide acceptance for dank and take the bold step in legalizing it as a medical and economic step for their countries.

For me; as a product of humanity, as an African, and most especially a citizen of the craziest place on the post-mars planet [Nigeria], I think it’s unwise for anyone to downplay the effects (perhaps benefits) of weed based alone on religious or political reasons. Let people decide.

Rolling Credit: Daniel Ayuba.


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