The African country of Malawi recently legalized the cultivation of cannabis with hopes that it will become a better alternative to tobacco and also a more viable medical option.
According to The New York Times, on Feb. 27, the Malawi Parliament passed a medical cannabis and cannabis cultivation bill. “Legalization of this crop will contribute to economic growth as it will contribute in the diversification of the economy and boost the country’s exports, especially at this time when tobacco exports are dwindling,” agriculture minister Kondwani Nankhumwa said.
Recreational cannabis is still illegal, and the country plans to burn hemp and cannabis that was confiscated illegally and start fresh. “The hemp is continuously being illegally grown in remote parts of Malawi and smuggled out of the country, and part of what is confiscated accumulates in the police stores and burning it is necessary to free up space,” said Nkhotakota Police Spokesman Williams Kaponda.
In addition, Malawi, Zambia, Lesotho and Zimbabwe are all African countries that now have more lenient cannabis laws and are beginning to embrace the crop. Under the new system, Malawi will have the Cannabis Regulatory Authority, a group that will give out licenses for all those involved in the cannabis industry, including those who are doing research.
Paliani Chinguwo, a cannabis advocate in the country, believes that Malawi has come a long way with this new law. “It dates back to as far as 1992-93 during the transition from the one-party state when Rastafarians started to emerge in public to articulate the enormous benefits of cannabis and agitate for the legalization,” Chinguwo said.
Malawi isn’t the first country in South Africa to try and use cannabis to boost the economy. Cape Town is attempting to do the same thing, and dispensaries aren’t uncommon across the continent. This could help transform industry and medicine in Malawi.