The Zambian government has approved a proposal seeking to legalize marijuana production in the African country. The marijuana cultivated in Zambia would be strictly used for medicinal purposes and exportation.
Annual license fees for companies looking to operate marijuana businesses in Zambia will be $250,000. Only those whose bids are successful will be awarded commercial permits to grow and export cannabis.
According to the Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya, the government would issue medical marijuana licenses once companies have presented evidence and assurance of their cultivation process to the point where patients can use the end product without inducing the psychoactive effect of adult-use marijuana. This is due to the large number of unsolicited proposals for cultivation licenses for medical marijuana received by the government.
Before legalization, a multi-sectoral team was selected to research the process of marijuana production from the farm to the lab, to the manufacturing plant, and finally to the end consumer who utilizes the products for medicinal purposes. Chilufya further said that the DEC and the Zambia police would be working together to punish people using marijuana illegally.
The Ministry of Health in Zambia would also be tasked with the responsibility of issuing licenses while the Zambia National Service would be strictly supervising the growth of marijuana crops.
The legislation legalizing marijuana production was passed on Wednesday during a cabinet meeting at State House. Several top officials at the Cabinet Office confirmed the passing of the bill, although they could not be identified since they were not allowed to speak to the media.
The unidentified officials further said that the Cabinet Memo seeking for marijuana legalization for medical purposes submitted by the Minister of Health, Dr. Chilufya, was approved by the Cabinet. Interestingly, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture, and the Ministry of Commerce were all working together in an attempt to take over the process of issuing permits from the Health Ministry during the cabinet meeting. The Ministry of Health has been pushing for medical marijuana legalization for some time.
The reason why many Departments were interested in being assigned the responsibility of issuing the licenses is that the whole process was sponsored by wealthy organizations and companies that were initially promised permits, and after the final vote, the Health Ministry won.
Research conducted by The African Cannabis Report revealed that by the year 2023, the legal marijuana industry in Africa could be worth more than $7.1 billion annually. This is the first thorough report on the legal marijuana sector in Africa.
Despite the potential of African marijuana industries, apart from Lesotho, marijuana is prohibited in all the other African countries.
It looks like Zambia is paving the way for Africa to open up to the immense medicinal and economic potential of cannabis, and experts believe that this development is a welcome one to sector players like No Borders Inc. (OTC: NBDR) and IONIC Brands Corp. (CSE: IONC) (OTC: IONKF) who may be quick to see the offshore opportunities opening up.
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