Medicinal Cannabis in the African Continent

by Alfred van der Heide
nirobi city

Medical Cannabis legalization has been a controversial issue for decades around the world. One of the main reasons why Cannabis has could not transcend in the pharmaceutical industry is its stigma over recreational uses, overlooking its medicinal and economic benefits. The use of Cannabis for medicinal purposes in Africa is not new. Cannabis could give considerable advantages if cultivated and exported. Despite its illegal status, many people throughout the African continent cultivate and commercialize Cannabis, both for herbal traditional medicine or for personal use.

Apart from its recreational uses, Cannabis has enormous possibilities in medicinal and economic fields. It has been reported Cannabis has medicinal properties for treating diverse diseases such as epilepsy, chemotherapy-related symptoms, and Parkinson’s. In addition, the benefits of medicinal Cannabis not only include improving a patient’s health. For African countries, medicinal Cannabis represents decreasing unemployment rates, creating jobs for Cannabis cultivation, and increasing national incomes by exporting derivatives of this plant.

South Africa with mountain Table in the background

South Africa with mountain Table in the background

(23/37) Even though there is still a long way to go over, the African continent is slowly changing its mind towards Cannabis legislation. Southern African countries such as Lesotho and South Africa have legalized medicinal Cannabis uses. Lesotho, as a pioneer of decriminalization of Cannabis, was the first country to legalize in 2017 Cannabis for medicinal purposes in the African Continent, followed by South Africa that even decriminalized its home cultivation and private use in February 2017. Zimbabwe allowed cannabis for medical and scientific purposes in the whole country in April 2018. Other recent cases are Zambia that also legalized Cannabis cultivation and exporting for medical purposes in December 2019, and Malawi that has joined the list in February 2020, legalizing the growing, selling, and exporting of Cannabis.

Other African countries such as Botswana, Swaziland, and Uganda are evaluating positively the implications of legalizing medicinal Cannabis. Recently, it has been reported an increment of campaigns for the legalization of Cannabis. In Kenya, it was formed in December 2018, the Africa Cannabis Association that seeks for the legalization of cannabis for “health supplements and environmental conservation” by the National Assembly. With the economic outlook of cannabis legalization becoming more attractive, some African countries want to enter into this industry that has the potential to be lucrative, to create employment opportunities and boost economic growth. Although Cannabis is still illegal in Morocco, there is a high tolerance for its personal use, which could facilitate future legalization.

two african women

Cannabis taxes can boost the African economy.

One of the main reasons Cannabis can become green gold for the African continent is its economic profit. In countries like Zambia and Malawi, authorities have recognized Cannabis legalization as an alternative measure, within a situation of global demand for tobacco falling down due to anti-smoking campaigns. Agriculture Minister, Kondwani Nankhumwa, said that “legislation of this crop will contribute to economic growth as it will contribute to the diversification of the economy and boost the country’s exports, especially at this time when tobacco’s exports are dwindling”. In May 2019, The Ondo State Nigerian Governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, called on the government expressing the need to encourage the cultivation of medicinal cannabis in the country, saying the Cannabis industry was capable of improving the national economy. In Ghana, the standards body argued that Cannabis could increase national income significantly. For governments, the exportation of Cannabis could diversify their economies in a market that is rising quickly.

It is worth highlighting that many of these countries’ authorities have claimed Cannabis would decrease unemployment rates. The labor force would be necessary for cultivation. Daragh Anglim, the managing director of Prohibition Partners commented that “despite its illegality, many agricultural workers have turned to cannabis farming as the only way to earn enough money to provide for the basic needs of their families.” Legislation of Cannabis cultivation not only would help agricultural workers that cultivate illegally but also, would help governments to control and supervise Cannabis production. It could also help patients to acquire medicines easily. In Uganda for instance, a director at Industrial Hemp Uganda Ltd, Benjamin Cadet, confirmed that “Cancer patients are using CBD illegally. We have the scientists and the technology to do this but regulations are not in place to allow cannabis drugs to be manufactured for domestic consumption.” There is still too much to do.

The cannabis market actually is being overlooked because of the stigmatization made on its recreational uses. Nevertheless, the global market for medical Cannabis is currently estimated at $150 billion and, according to The Consumer Staples Report by Barclays, the global Cannabis market could be worth up to $272 billion in the coming years. Another case is, for instance, Morocco that is already the world’s largest – albeit illicit – supplier of cannabis to Europe and which the current illegal Cannabis market has been calculated by the BBC to be worth approximately almost $9 billion. Africa is reported as being the second-largest producer and consumer of Cannabis in the world. The South African medical cannabis market is predicted to grow to $776 million in 2023, in a report published by the consultancy firm Prohibition Partners, but it only assumes a fully legal and regulated cannabis industry and only contemplates Southern African countries like South Africa, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Nigeria, Morocco, Malawi, Ghana, Swaziland, and Zambia.

african climate

Africa has the perfect climate to cultivate Cannabis.

The African continent could be a potential leader in the global market of Cannabis due to its perfect climate conditions which favor its high-quality production, unlike European countries where weather conditions are not always favorable. In the last years, medicinal Cannabis has caught the attention of governments. Recently, many African countries have actively harnessed the potential of their respective Cannabis industries by establishing legal and regulatory laws that adequately provide for the cultivation, sale, transportation, manufacturing, processing, and exportation of Cannabis products. This year, Swaziland passed a law to evaluate regulations for commercial production of Cannabis for medicinal and scientific purposes. Despite it being illegal to possess or sell Cannabis in Swaziland, the government has explored the possibility of legalizing it, but only for economic purposes. The country’s illegal cannabis trade is booming, mainly in the north, thanks largely to international high demand for ‘Swazi Gold’.

Even though medical cannabis has been legalized in Southern African countries, commercialization and marketing are still not legal and its possession over the permitted amounts is hardly penalized, especially taking into account those medicaments containing THC. It is necessary to have a license for cultivation, production, and selling of Cannabis in almost every country where it is allowed, other countries also require patients to have a license request for Cannabis medicines and treatments. There are diverse options in order to buy medicinal Cannabis in Africa. The countries where you can buy CBD legally under specific criteria are South Africa, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Malawi, Zambia, and Swaziland. Online purchase is secure, cautious, and convenient.

When you shop online, there is a higher rate of guarantees for quality and laws fulfillment. Among the advantages of online purchase, there are first, variety, and diversity for product selection. There is a huge range of CBD products in online stores and there are higher possibilities to find the best option for a special illness. Second, as a result of detailed descriptions on webpages, people can select the product that fits better with its necessities. Third, the product is delivered straight to doorsteps. It is not necessary to go over the country to find a product, expecting to get everything at the click of a button. Some online stores where you can buy medical Cannabis in South Africa include Healthy Hemp Oil, BioCBD+, Ananda Hemp, PhytoPlusCBD, Blue Moon Help, Cannuka, Endoca, and Hemp Bombs. It is important that the product’s content is within legal limits before the purchase (0.2% THC for South Africa), and also to check out national laws depending on the country.

African women

Cannabis can not only boost the economy but also provide alternative ways for people to get treatment

In conclusion, Cannabis for medicinal and scientific purposes should not be overlooked. African countries could find a new alternative to economic improvements, both national and internationally. Even though Cannabis legislation is in its infancy stage, diverse movements are pushing up for Cannabis to be allowed in many African countries. In fact, that would be a good strategy for economic incomes and domestic affairs for Cannabis cultivation and production while contributing to the pharmaceutical industry in their respective countries to develop derivatives of this plant.

Even in countries where Cannabis legislation is positive, precaution is never enough. Licenses are requested for cultivation, production, and exportation and in some countries, they are also requested for treatments derived from Cannabis. Currently, CBD is an illegal product in most countries unless given explicit medical exceptions. However, there exist diverse alternatives to buy medical Cannabis legally in South Africa including online purchase, which is suitable and safe.

Written By Rafael Torres

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