Vice-President Saulos Chilima has said he is championing the farmining of medical marijuana , saying it fetches more money on the international market which would boost Malawi’s economy.
Chilima said when he addressed a political rally of his UTM party in central region Indian Hemp growing district of Nkhotakota on Saturday.
“As UTM we want to look at the possibilities of using industrial marijuana for medical purposes as well as for farming. I hope you understand this clearly. There are different types of marijuana. In some countries, it is used for making medicine. Both the farming and the use of it are controlled.
“As UTM, we want to look into the possibility of doing the same here. We want to carry out research to see whether it is a viable trade for us, Malawians. I am talking about industrial marijuana – I hope you understand that clearly. I have not said start smoking it,” said Chilima.
He said there is a high demand of the herb, also known as cannabis sativa, saying Malawi should not be missing out of the opportunity.
It is estimated that one kilogramme of industrial hemp, fetches about K32 000 on the market and that there is potential direct annual benefit to Malawians in excess of K3 billion on 16.5 hectares.
Currently, Zimbabwe, Morrocco and South Africa are among African countries reported to have legalised the growing of industrial hemp.
Chilima, who broke ranks with the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to form the UTM said he will push to allow hemp farming to happen.
A Canadian investor in the cannabis industry, Graham MacKintosh of Green Quest Farmaceuticals, has since called on the country to legalise Indian hemp, for medical purposes to replace tobacco .
“There is a worldwide phenomenon taking place to legalise cannabis. If we can grow hemp on the higher side the economic benefits will be more than the normal tobacco but let us make sure the industry is regulated,” he said
He explained that there is a lot of value in using cannabis especially cannabidiol (CBD), a naturally occurring cannabinoid constituent of cannabis, which helps with pain relief, acts as an anti-seizure, combats anxiety and fights cancer.
“In the next three years, it is estimated that the demand for CBD oils will grow by 700 percent. So this is an opportunity Malawi should not miss,” MacKintosh said.
Parliament gave a go ahead for trials of industrial hemp at Chitedze Research Station and in Salima as studies are still ongoing on whether it can become a viable export product.
Among other issues at the rally, Chilima urged the people to keep safe their registration certificates so that they can vote next year.
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