Zimbabwe has followed Lesotho by legalising the production of marijuana for medicinal and scientific purposes, making it the second African country to turn the drug into a source of revenue.
However, recreational use of the drug known in the country as ‘mbanje or dagga’ remains illegal.
A government notice by the health and child care minister, Dr David Parirenyatwa says individuals and corporations can apply for licenses to grow marijuana, whose production and possession had brought up to 12 years in prison.
Producers of mbanje must be licensed by the minister, reported Zimbabwe Herald.
The notice was contained in a Government Gazette Statutory Instrument 62 of 2018 (Dangerous Drugs – Production of Cannabis for Medicinal and Scientific Use Regulations).
“An application for the issue of a licence in terms of section 27 of the Act shall be made to the Minister, in duplicate and shall be accompanied by the appropriate fee and three copies of a plan of the site proposed to be licensed which shall comply with the requirement specified in these regulations.
“In case of an individual, proof of citizenship or proof of being ordinarily resident in Zimbabwe or proof of an exemption by the Minister (will be required),” reads the regulations.
“In the case of a company, proof of citizenship or proof of being ordinarily resident in Zimbabwe of the majority of directors or proof of an exemption by the Minister and proof of incorporation in Zimbabwe of the company; and a declaration, signed and dated by the proposed authorised person in charge, stating that the authorised person in charge, the proposed responsible person in charge and, if applicable, the proposed alternate responsible person in charge, are familiar with the provisions of the Act (will be required),” reads the regulations.
The application for the licence must also provide a detailed description of the method that the applicant proposes to use for keeping records.
The Minister has powers to audit the activities of the licensed producer with respect to cannabis.
“The application shall also contain the following – (a) if applicable, 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 by the applicant under the licence and the period in which that quantity is to be sold or provided,” read the regulations.
In case of an application for a licence to sell or provide fresh cannabis or cannabis oil under, the applicant must provide the Minister before commencing to sell or provide the substance, with the dried cannabis equivalence factor determined under section 73 and the method that they used to determine it.
If an applicant intends to possess, produce, sell, provide, ship, deliver, transport or destroy cannabis at more than one site, a separate application must be submitted for each proposed site.
A licensed producer designate one authorised person in charge to have overall responsibility for management of the activities conducted by the licensed producer under their licence at their site who may, if appropriate, be licensed producer.
The latest move on marijuana by Zimbabwe is a marked shift from the traditionally tough stance in the largely conservative country.
The tiny nation of Lesotho last year became the first African country to issue a license for medical marijuana.
Countries including Malawi and Ghana are reportedly exploring ways to legalise the drug. Nigeria’s National Drug Law and Enforcement Agency continues to arrest people in possession of marijuana.
A South African court last year ruled that private use of marijuana was legal but the government appealed.