The cultivation of cannabis for medicinal and industrial uses was legalized on Thursday with the passage of a bill by the country’s Parliament. The move comes as the southern African nation seeks to find alternatives to the country’s top export tobacco, which is waning in popularity globally with the success of anti-smoking campaigns.
“Legalization of this crop will contribute to economic growth as it will contribute in the diversification of the economy and boost the country’s exports, especially at this time when tobacco exports are dwindling,” said agriculture minister Kondwani Nankhumwa.
The measure passed by lawmakers legalizes the cultivation of cannabis for the production of medicines and hemp fiber. The recreational use of cannabis will still be against the law.
The bill also establishes the nation’s Cannabis Regulatory Authority, which will issue licenses to cultivate, process, distribute, and export the crop. The agency will also issue permits to conduct scientific research on cannabis.
Paliani Chinguwo, who has advocated for the legalization of cannabis in Malawi for decades, said that the movement has a long history.
“It dates back to as far as 1992-93 during the transition from one-party state when Rastafarians started to emerge in public to