Malawi, the 4th poorest country in the world, is going to try cannabis cultivation. In this small African country about 50% of the population lives below the poverty line,
The Malawi parliament has recently passed a bill that allows the cultivation of cannabis for medicinal and industrial purposes. Those in favor of the bill say that it will provide an immense boost for the Malawi economy, which greatly relies on tobacco production.
On the other hand, the anti-drug campaigners and religious conservatives claim that legalization will encourage the recreational use of cannabis.
Boniface Kadzamira, the lawmaker who first brought the bill to the parliament floor in 2014, had thoroughly researched the matter and had proof that hemp (a non-drug product of cannabis) could be used in a great variety of ways: to produce lightning oil, soap, medicine, and other useful products. Unfortunately, he was called crazy at the time.
If the country’s president signs the bill into law on March 19, Malawi will join Zimbabwe, Zambia, Lesotho, and South Africa, which have already legalized the cultivation of industrial hemp. South Africa has even decriminalized recreational cannabis use in 2018.
For a long time, Malawi has relied on its tobacco industry, which has been on a steady decline due to the many anti-tobacco campaigns and the ever-decreasing number of smokers. The tobacco industry accounted for 13% of the country’s GDP and 60% of its foreign exchange earnings.
Nevertheless, cannabis cultivation will help Malawi diversify its agriculture-based economy, thanks to a large number of products that can be derived from it. Tobacco farmers will also have a new alternative for farming.
Malawian President Peter Mutharika has not yet indicated whether he would sign the bill into law. Hence, Malawi citizens will have to wait for March 19 to find out what his decision will be.
In a country where albino people are in constant danger of being killed and their body parts sold as powerful remedies, perhaps cannabis could be a catalyst for some positive changes.
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Written by Mirjana Dobric