As the push for cannabis legalization continues across various continents, Africa is not left behind. The Rwanda government is set to issue licenses for investors intending to start medicinal cannabis cultivation.
Licensing medicinal cannabis
According to a statement released by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) on Tuesday, the decision was based on the approval of the cabinet. On Monday, the Rwanda cabinet chaired by President Paul Kagame approved the regulatory guidelines that will govern the medicinal cannabis cultivation, processing, and export of high-value therapeutic crops.
Following this development, Rwanda will start receiving applications for licenses from investors interested in growing cannabis. However, the RDB also stated that cannabis consumption in the central African nation remains banned.
Medical cannabis produced in Rwanda is solely for export markets. This will not give an excuse for drug abusers and dealers. The law against narcotics is available and it will continue to be enforced, said Rwanda’s Minister of Health Dr. Daniel Ngamije.
Targeting global cannabis market
With this decision, the government of Rwanda targets to grow its export earnings from the global cannabis market, which is valued at $345 billion, according to New Frontier Data analysts. The country also seeks to create employment opportunities in high-value agriculture and agro-processing.
Speaking on state-owned Rwanda Broadcasting Agency earlier on Tuesday, Dr. Ngamije said the country has been importing cannabis for medicinal purposes. However, going forward, Rwanda should be able to supply the herb.
The minister also warned that the country would strictly implement relevant laws and guidelines on medicinal cannabis cultivation and exportation. He reiterated that the government would not allow adult-use of cannabis, which remains criminalized in the country.
This development comes just when Mexico is positioning itself to become the world’s biggest legal cannabis market. The Mexican Senate has until December 15, 2020, to pass cannabis legalization. According to orders given by the Supreme Court, which struck down a marijuana ban as unconstitutional two years ago.
After decades of suppressive drug policies that led to lethal cartel wars, Mexico is now set to become the world’s biggest legal cannabis market. With the looming deadline, there’s been intensified debate as to exactly what legalization should look like and who should benefit.
So far, Mexican lawmakers are grappling with questions such as: how easy or difficult should it be for users to buy and consume marijuana? Currently, an estimated 200,000 families already grow cannabis. Should they be protected from competition with the large, foreign marijuana companies competing for influence?