Zimbabwe legalizes marijuana to boost economy

Following the legalization of cannabis in Zimbabwe, the government has granted approval for all local and foreign cannabis investors to fully own farms and licenses. The decision, which comes after a high-level meeting by the cabinet, is meant to improve competitiveness.

In 2018, Zimbabwe approved the production of marijuana for solely medicinal and scientific purposes after plenty of deliberation, thus becoming the second African country to legalize its use after Lesotho. “Although Zimbabwe has deployed a limited medical cannabis programme, the country is looking closely at how to create a more robust and expansive regulated system,” the report says.

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Finance minister Mthuli Ncube has backed calls for Zimbabwe to grow cannabis for export to take advantage of the growing global legal marijuana market. Previously, production and possession of the drug could bring up to 12 years in prison, although recreational use remains illegal.

Legal marijuana has started gaining traction worldwide due to very high demand among consumers and increasing legalization of recreational or medical marijuana in various countries. Much of Africa still criminalises the production and use of marijuana but countries including Malawi and Ghana are reportedly exploring ways they too can legalise it.

Zimbabwe has, for years, struggled with serious foreign currency shortages which have lately manifested in acute fuel shortages. It is now possible to request a license to grow marijuana, according to a recently issued government notice that was released by the country’s health minister. Both individuals and companies can apply.

Zimbabwe can rake in US$19 million in tax revenues and create between 60 000 and 90 000 jobs over a five year period from the production of medical cannabis and industrial hemp, a new report says.

According to research by New Frontier Data titled Hemp Cultivation in Africa: Zimbabwe Case Study 2019 released recently, the country stands to benefit economically from regulated cultivation of cannabis.

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