On 16th December, 2019 the Government announced that cabinet had in principle legalized the cultivation, processing and selling of marijuana for medicinal and commercial purposes only. This announcement set social media ablaze with comments, memes and of course some misinformation.
From the onset, it is important to clarify that Government has not outlawed the existing laws governing the cultivation, sell or use of marijuana. In short the cultivation, consumption and sell of marijuana remains prohibited under the current laws.
There has also been misinformation that a colossal fee of $250,000 has been set as licence fee for those who would want to venture into the cannabis business. The truth is that no such amount has been suggested. What Government has done is to set up a Ministerial Committee of experts from the Ministries of Health, Home Affairs, Agriculture and Finance to come up with an operational framework of how the cultivation, processing and selling of marijuana shall be done in a controlled manner in line with our existing statutes.
Marijuana has proven to be a money spinner that can turn economies around in the shortest of times. According to available data, the legal trade of cannabis or marijuana can fetch as high as 32 dollars per gram which is nearly 32 million dollars per tonne. The 2018 Cannabis Price Index compiled on WeedIndex.io shows that the price of Cannabis in Tokyo is the highest in the World at 32 point 66 dollar per gram.
In the United States the marijuana industry totaled more than $8 billion in sales in 2017, with sales estimated to reach $11 billion this year and $23 billion by 2022.
There were more than 9,000 active licenses for cannabis businesses in the U.S. in 2017, with the industry employing more than 120,000 people.
As more states move to legalize cannabis, these numbers will only continue to rise, potentially providing a new stream of revenue and jobs to local economies.
The Government’s decision to legalise the cultivation, processing and selling of marijuana for medicinal and economic purposes will greatly boost Zambia’s economy by increasing revenue, creating jobs and broadening the tax base. There will be a boost to agriculture, starting with the businesses and individuals who will be growing and harvesting the weed to those who will be processing and packaging the refined weed products. Additionally, those in the marketing and transport sector will largely benefit from the business.
The proceeds from marijuana business will massively contribute to the development and growth of other sectors of the economy such as Education, Health, Infrastructure and so on.
In terms of medical benefits, science has proven that marijuana can be used to treat a number of illnesses and symptoms ranging from depression, stress, Post-Traumatic Disorder Symptoms among many others.
Studies on cancer cells suggest that cannabinoids may either slow down the growth of or kill some types of cancer. Research has shown that cannabis can cure Leprosy and many other medical conditions.
The bold step taken by Government to allow the cultivation, processing and selling of marijuana for medicinal and commercial purposes only will go a long way in raising government revenue, creating jobs and uplifting the lives of many people. The onus is now on the experts in the Ministerial Technical Committee to put up correct measures to ensure that the cannabis business benefits Zambians.
The author, Mr. Antonio Mwanza, is the Deputy Media Director of the Patriotic Front.
©Zambia Reports 2019.