Zambia has joined the list of African nations that have legalized or are considering legalizing cannabis to some degree, as attitudes towards the drug slowly change and investments in its medical benefits grow.
The country’s spokesperson Dora Siliya on Monday said a special cabinet meeting on December 4, legalized the production and export of cannabis for economic and medicinal purposes. While this would make Zambia the latest country to shift its position on the drug to give its finances a boost, Siliya’s statement did not make it clear whether the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes in Zambia had been legalized.
In this article, we highlight the different countries including Lesotho, South Africa and Zimbabwe that have changed their stance on cannabis.
The global market for medical cannabis is currently estimated at $150 billion and could reach $272 billion in 2028, according to Barclays Bank. Zambia’s motivation for legalizing cannabis exports is rooted in a hefty fiscal deficit and a growing debt burden.
Zambian opposition Green Party President Peter Sinkamba, who has been advocating the export of cannabis since 2013, said the move could earn Zambia up to $36 billion annually. “The right to privacy is not confined to a home or private dwelling. It will not be a criminal offense for an adult person to use or be in possession of cannabis in private space,” deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo said. Zimbabweans are now able to apply for licenses to grow cannabis for medical and research purposes. The five-year renewable licenses will allow growers to possess, transport and sell fresh and dried cannabis as well as cannabis oil.
Deputy health minister Manthabiseng Phohleli told AFP that the legalization of cannabis presented “a huge opportunity for the country”, which boasts 300 days of sunshine per year. Unemployment is high, public services are scant and almost a quarter of the population is infected with HIV. The government charges 30,000 euros for a one-year renewable license to grow cannabis. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that 70 percent of marijuana consumed in South Africa is grown in Lesotho, making cannabis the country’s third source of revenue.