A Canadian investor in the cannabis industry, Green Quest Farmaceuticals, has called on the country to legalise to replace tobacco with Indian hemp, saying it fetches more money on the international market.
An expert from Green Quest Farmaceuticals, Graham MacKintosh, said in an interview on Monday there is a high demand of the herb, also known as cannabis sativa, but investors can only buy from where it is legalised.
Said MacKintosh: “There is a worldwide phenomenon taking place to legalise cannabis. If we can grow hemp on the higher side the economic benefits will be more than the normal tobacco but let us make sure the industry is regulated.”
He explained that there is a lot of value in using cannabis especially cannabidiol (CBD), a naturally occurring cannabinoid constituent of cannabis, which helps with pain relief, acts as an anti-seizure, combats anxiety and fights cancer.
“In the next three years, it is estimated that the demand for CBD oils will grow by 700 percent. So this is an opportunity Malawi should not miss,” MacKintosh said.
An advocate for the legalisation of industrial hemp, Ntchisi North legislator Boniface Kadzamira, said it is sad that government has taken long to legalise hemp.
He said: “It is sad that up to now, we haven’t yet changed our laws to allow hemp farming to happen. We would wish for government to legalise it so that people can start investing in it and in return improve the economy.”
It is estimated that one kilogramme of industrial hemp, fetches about K32 000 on the market and that there is potential direct annual benefit to Malawians in excess of K3 billion on 16.5 hectares.
Currently, Zimbabwe, Morrocco and South Africa are among African countries reported to have legalised the growing of industrial hemp.
Parliament gave a go ahead for trials of industrial hemp at Chitedze Research Station and in Salima as studies are still ongoing on whether it can become a viable export product.