As we know Africa is a continent consisting of many countries within its borders. Two of these countries have made the move to legalize the consumption of cannabis for medicinal purposes, which in some cases in the U.S. has been the precedent leading to legalized recreational use as well. Last September the tiny country of Lesotho agreed that the plant should be legalized initially for medical and scientific study. Now Zimbabwe, the larger and more well-known country, is joining Lesotho in the ranks of international countries making the move towards cannabis legalization.
Africa could have the ability to generate 80 billion dollars a year from the production and sale of cannabis in a regulated market. There is an estimated number of 38.2 million African adults that consume cannabis. Africa is second only to the Americas in cannabis consumption according to a recent United Nations 2017 World Drug Report. The difference is, most of Africa still criminalizes the production and use of cannabis in any form. Production and/or possession of cannabis substances had resulted in up to 12 years in prison for a conviction. Zimbabwe however, is looking at things differently and has become the second African country to legalize cannabis for medical and scientific purposes.
Dr. David Parirenyatwa, Zimbabwe’s Health Minister, stated in a government notification that individuals and businesses would be allowed to apply for licenses to cultivate cannabis for both medicinal and scientific use. The licenses issued would be valid for five years allowing growers to possess, transport then sell freshly harvested cannabis, oil or dried flower product. The applicants would have to submit detailed plans of their production site, estimated yield and accounting system for cannabis transactions. Currently, individuals or businesses that wish to apply for a license must have citizenship in Zimbabwe or have an expressed waiver issued by Dr. Parirenyatwa. Those that may have prior drug convictions would not be eligible to apply for a license.
Zimbabwe has been considering the legalization of cannabis production in hopes to revive revenue streams for its agricultural economy. Last year Obert Mpofu, the former Zimbabwe investment minister, said that a Canadian firm had applied to the government for a special permit to produce cannabis in specially designated economic zoned areas. These areas would be designed with the purpose of attracting foreign investors. Zimbabwe is already one of South Africa’s biggest tobacco producers exporting most of its crop to China. The transition to include cannabis production would seem to be relatively obtainable.
A South African court last year had ruled that private use of cannabis would be deemed as legal but the government ended up appealing the ruling at the Constitutional Court level. Hopefully other African governments will go down the same path as Zimbabwe and Lesotho and look towards legalization measures. This would undoubtedly bring in financial windfalls that would contribute to the overall GDP of these countries.
By Tracy Jerome Chisley (@PoeticPanther)
Like what you’re reading? See more articles like this HERE
Any tips, questions, or thoughts you’d like to share? Leave us a comment below!