The value of cannabis is being appreciated across Africa, with Zimbabwe joining into the footsteps of Uganda and the likes to widen the country’s industrial and export base.
In April last year, Zimbabwe legalised the production of cannabis for medicinal or scientific use. A statutory instrument entitled Production of Cannabis for Medicinal and Scientific Use Regulations said prospective producers can apply to the health ministry for a licence to grow cannabis but under strict conditions.
“Individual producers must be citizens of the country or have proof that they are resident while companies must produce proof of incorporation in Zimbabwe. An application shall be accompanied by the appropriate fee and three copies of a plan of the site proposed to be licensed.
“The application shall contain, the maximum quantity expressed as net weight in grammes, of fresh cannabis, dried cannabis, cannabis oil to be produced by the applicant under the licence and the production period and the maximum number of cannabis plants to be sold or provided,” read the requirements.
While at it the government has opted to change laws to allow for farmers to grow industrial hemp as it saw the plant as a future substitute for tobacco, the country’s biggest export earning crop at the moment. Industrial hemp is a strain of a cannabis species that is grown specifically for industrial uses of its derived products. Its fibre is used in textiles and paper, and it also produces edible seeds.
Last year in April, Zimbabweans were allowed to apply for licenses to grow cannabis for medical and research purposes, but the process has been slow as authorities try to put in place laws to ensure cannabis farms are secure.
“But with hemp, it’s not toxic as cannabis. The minister of justice has been directed to say ‘go and make amendments’ to the criminal code in our system so that people who will grow hemp don’t have to be criminalized,” acting industry and commerce minister July Moyo told a post-cabinet media conference.