By Spy Uganda
Kampala: A growing number of countries in Africa are looking to cannabis as the ticket out of poverty, and foreign investment for this sector has flooded in.
Voices in the global industry are increasingly anticipating a cannabis boom on the continent. There are now seven legal producers in Africa. South Africa, one of the continent’s economic giants, decriminalized personal cultivation through a ruling of its high court in 2018, and that same year began issuing licenses for commercial cultivation of medical marijuana.
South Africa’s small, landlocked neighbour, the mountain kingdom of Lesotho, issued the continent’s first commercial cultivation licenses in 2017 and is now producing for the international medical market. Significant investment has come from major Canadian licensed producers, day-lighting the kingdom’s traditional illicit cannabis sector.
Zimbabwe also legalized medical marijuana cultivation in 2018, by order of the Health Ministry, although no licenses have yet been issued. In Uganda, plans for commercial cultivation were held up by demands from conservative cabinet members for a legal review last year, but the first licenses were approved in December 2019, going to the Israeli company Together Pharma.
Also in December, Zambia’s cabinet took the decision to legalize the cultivation and export of cannabis for the medical market. The move came as the country was being stricken by a severe drought — a grim harbinger of aridification linked to global climate change in the greater southern African region. This could make Zambia an unwilling test case on the claims of cannabis drought-resistance.
Another likely next entry of cannabis on the continent is Kenya, which may soon join Uganda as the second nation in East Africa to promote cannabis commerce. The country’s parliament is now being lobbied by the Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya to pass a bill legalizing medical marijuana — but under the strict control of the national Pharmacy & Poisons Board.
What Uganda Loses From Delayed Legalization Of The Plant
Legal marijuana presents the possibility of tremendous benefits to economies on a local and a national scale. It also could help to secure the investment portfolios of investors across the country and further afield as well.
While marijuana remains illegal in Uganda, it is difficult for investors to capitalize on the growth of the industry. The number of marijuana-related companies trading on public stock exchanges is minuscule, and while investors do have the option of working with over-the-counter exchanges.
Should marijuana become legal, marijuana companies would be free to list their stocks on all Uganda exchanges, thereby enhancing liquidity and opening up access to many more investors. Should the growth rates for the cannabis space continue as they have in recent years in Africa, it’s likely that investors would express a keen interest in the industry.
Legalized marijuana also stands to benefit medical consumers of cannabis-based products. As marijuana becomes legal in more and more counties in Africa. it’s likely that the price will drop overall as a result of commoditization. This may not immediately seem like good news for overall tax revenue or for marijuana companies looking to maximize profits. However, individuals utilizing marijuana-based products for medical treatment would stand to benefit considerably from lower prices for these items.
Meanwhile, there is ample pushback against the idea of legalizing marijuana across the country. Critics cite the potential for confusion among Ugandans, concern about increased homelessness or youth use of the drug and so much more but are these vital enough to bar the entrance of billions into Ugandan staggering economy as profits from this business? You have the best answer….see you today!