The Sunday Mail
ON February 27, 2020, the Malawian parliament passed a Bill into law that legalised the cultivation of cannabis in the country for medical and industrial use.
This means that cannabis — also called marijuana — could be legally cultivated for the production of medicines and hemp fibres for industry.
Chauncy Jere, director of Ikaros Africa and spokesperson for Hemp Association of Malawi, said: “There is no denying that cannabis would be a lucrative industry and its demand is huge.”
Legalising the cultivation of the crop, he added, forms “right steps to move the country’s economy forward”.
The Bill was sponsored in the Parliament by Malawi’s Minister of Agriculture, Kondwani Nankhumwa.
With this new passage, the Southern African country joins a league of other African countries that have taken conscious steps to tap into the economic potential of the plant.
Some of these countries have either relaxed laws that criminalise the use of the plant or completely legalised its cultivation.
They include Lesotho, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Morocco.
This decision is also important because it will help temper the contraction experienced in tobacco export — its main foreign currency earner — between 2017 and 2019.
The tobacco industry had experienced a decline in demand as major players like British Tobacco and Altria gave up about 20 percent of their market value.
This new law potentially makes the crop a key foreign currency earner for Malawi. Cannabis plants have been grown since at least the third millennium.
It is mostly used for recreation or as a medicinal drug.
In 2013, it was estimated that about 2,7 percent to 4,9 percent of the global population — 128 million and 232 million people between the ages of 15 and 60 — consumed the crop.
Known by consumers and tourists as the “Malawian gold”, cannabis grows more often on its own.
It also serves as a source of employment for a large percentage of women and children who cultivate in rural areas, in addition to men who handle its marketing.
Malawi is one of the largest producers of cannabis in Southern Africa.
The country has some of the best species of cannabis in the world, which makes it relatively valuable than marijuana grown in other countries in terms of sales and relevance.
Malawian cannabis has now flooded the marijuana markets in Kenya, Tanzania and many other locales.
Cannabis is also used for spiritual purposes in Malawi.
For years now, Malawi’s large Rastafarian community has been calling for the legalisation of the cultivation, supply and possession of marijuana.
This is because smoking the plant is seen as a key tenet of the Rastafari movement. However, the new law does not legalise the use of the crop for recreation. — Ventures Africa.