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Southern Africa’s Cannabis Ambitions

THE Malawi Parliament has backed a bill allowing for the cultivation of cannabis for industrial and medicinal purposes. 

The country is joining a growing list of southern African nations opening their doors to the cannabis industry

Zimbabwe, Lesotho and South Africa all permit medical cannabis and hemp production with the latter decriminalizing the recreational use of cannabis in 2018.

Malawi says the move towards hemp and cannabis will reduce its reliance on on tobacco, which accounts for about 13% of its gross domestic product and 60% of its foreign exchange earnings.

Lesotho has a history of illegal cannabis production stretching back centuries and became the first African country to approve medical pot cultivation in 2017.

Ontario-based Aphria last year launched joint venture with UK extraction company Verve Dynamics. This JV, known as Cann Invest Africa, aims to export Lesotho CBD to global markets. 

Vic Neufeld, CEO of Aphria which prides itself on being a value for money cannabis proposition, said: “Given the abundant natural resources and our collective expertise and that of our partners, Verve is poised to become one of the lowest-cost producers of medical cannabis extracts in the world.” 

A second Canadian cannabis company has beaten a path to Lesotho, with Toronto-based Supreme Cannabis Company investing $10m into Medigrow, giving it a 10% share of the business.

Medigrow was granted permission by the Lesotho government to begin cultivation in 2016 and the partners have entered into a long-term, distribution partnership which will see cannabis oil exported to Canada and elsewhere.

UK medical cannabis firm Eco Equity has started work on a £5m medical cannabis cultivation business in Zimbabwe.

Based in London, it is one of 40 foreign and domestic companies to have secured a licence to grow in the African country since it changed the law last year.

‘The African Cannabis Report’– published by Prohibition Partners, estimated that Africa’s legal Cannabis market could be worth over US$7.1 billion by 2023.

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