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Malawi legalizes medical cannabis use—for here, there and anywhere but Malawi

February 28, 2020

Can medical cannabis products make Africa “crate” again?

On Thursday (February 27) Malawi followed a growing trend in Africa and legalized the cultivation of cannabis for the production of medicines and hemp fibres.

However, the small, southeast African nation—known for its home-grown Malawi Gold strain of cannabis—has not legalized either the medical, or (admittedly widespread) recreational use of cannabis by its own 18.1 million citizens.

Canadian connection to cannabis legalization in Africa

The Cannabis Regulation Bill, tabled in Malawi’s parliament by Agriculture Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa, is not actually meant for home consumption. It is squarely aimed at cashing in on the huge export market created by the legalization of medical and recreational use of cannabis in wealthier nations, such as Canada.

Like several of its neighbours, Malawi is hoping that cannabis can be its new chief foreign currency earner (like tobacco used to be) and wipe out the country’s swelling debt which was about $5.5 billion in 2018, or 62 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Zambia, which shares a border with Malawi, likewise legalized the production and export of cannabis in December 4, 2019, “for economic and medicinal purposes”.

Again, it was not clear from the Zambian government’s statement, Reuters, reported, “if the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes in Zambia had been legalized”.

According to Reuters, the export of cannabis has been touted in Zambia for years, as a way to bring in tens of billions of dollars of new revenue to a country saddled with billions of dollars of foreign debt.

The first country in Africa to legalize the cultivation of cannabis for the production of export products was little Lesotho, though South Africa has to be given its due.

On September 18, 2018, the South Africa Constitutional Court straight up decriminalized the use and cultivation of cannabis in a private space. However, this bold ruling has not changed the fact that buying and selling cannabis continues to be illegal in South Africa, making things confusing there, weed-wise.

Meanwhile, between late 2017 and early 2018, the health ministry of Lesotho (a tiny nation actually embedded in South Africa) issued licenses to six companies to cultivate cannabis in Lesotho for scientific and medicinal purposes.

The first company granted a license—Verve Dynamics—was originally 100 percent South African. However, Canada’s Aphria acquired a 30 percent interest in Verve in May 2018.

Of the six companies granted Lesotho grow-ops, one was UK-owned to begin with and another has since been taken over by a U.S. firm. The remaining three are now owned, whole, or in part, by Canadian companies.

In March of 2018, the first-ever shipment of medical cannabis from Africa to Canada arrived right here in Vancouver, British Columbia. It was reportedly 850 grams-worth and it came from the Lesotho grow-op of the UK-owned Medi Kingdom. Click the image to enlarge it.

From → Drugs

6 Comments
  1. A lot of hoopla over the legalization of pot. Also a lot of investment money lost on speculators that thought pot was going to generate wealth. Good luck to African countries.
    Seems the government cant compete with the black market. Im glad that like you Stanley I cant blame my problems on drugs or alcohol.

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  2. Do you think theres a market for cooperative grown fair trade weed? Malawi could really use an alternative to tobacco, it would be super cool if cannabis cultivation could put the money in farmers pockets

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    • I do not know how fair trade cooperatives are created but If there is a reason for fair trade coffee to create a more equitable situation for coffee growers then the same need must exist for fair trade cannabis. There certainly seems to be a widespread need to find a cash crop to replace tobacco.

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      • I don’t have figures to hand, but only a percentage of the crops certified as fair trade can find a market as a fair trade, the rest are offloaded onto the normal market. But I wonder if canabis consumers are more interested in the fair trade aspect than, say, people buying sugar. It seems like there’s still an opportunity to create the parameters of the trade

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      • It’s probably up to a large cannabis seller (or sellers) in the North American and European markets to see fair trade cannabis as enough of a value-added proposition, so far as the consumer is concerned, to support the creation of a fair trade cooperative.

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