Zambia has legalised the production and export of cannabis for economic and medical purposes, said Dora Siliya on Monday. In a move similar to it’s neighbouring Southern African countries to bolster their economies, and benefit from the boom in investment for cannabis from around the globe.
The decision was made by cabinet on the 4th December, however, it was not clear from the statement if the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes in Zambia had been legalised.
Zambia’s motivation is due to a massive fiscal deficit and a growing burden of debt. The country has risen in external debt by $19.24 billion over the past two years and has raised fears the country is heading for a serious debt crisis.
Zambia cut its 2019 growth forecast in September due to bad weather hitting crop production and electricity generation while the International Monetary Fund has said growth is likely to remain subdued over the medium term.
Zambian opposition Green Party President Peter Sinkamba, who has been advocating the export of cannabis since 2013, said the move could earn Zambia up to $36 billion annually. Needless to say, this could go a long way to boosting the local economy if used wisely.
“Depending on how properly this is done, this could just change the face of Zambia’s economy,” Sinkamba told Reuters. “This could be a blessing or a curse, like diamonds and gold, depending on the policy direction.”
The licenses will be issued by the Ministry of Health while the growth of the crop will be strictly supervised by the Zambia National Service.