University of Malawi economic professor based at Chancellor College in eastern city of Zomba, Ben Kalua has called for the de-politicization of production of Cannabis – locally known as Chamba- saying said industrial Hemp has the potential to steer the country’s economy towards recovery.
He was speaking during a seminar organized by Kemet Forum at Chancellor College under the theme ‘Demystifying Cannabis’.
In his presentation Professor Kalua said the ban on Cannabis during the colonial days was purely political aimed at protecting the colonialists economic interests.
Kalua argued that research has shown that the gains outweigh the negatives in as far as production of this plant is concerned.
He said in the case of Cannabis which is used for smoking, there is a lot of research that has shown a lot of medicinal benefits from the plant.
The recent research which was led by Dr Yankel Gabet of Tel Aviv University, revealed that Cannabis could be used in medicinal form to speed up the healing of broken bones.
Cannabis reportedly has a number of health benefits. A 2014 study found that THC reduced tumour growth in an aggressive strain of brain cancer within mice with virtually no psychotropic side-effects
Kalua said the misconception comes when the two are put together saying the hemp under discussion is not for smoking but for industrial purpose.
The Professor said smoking is a choice.
“Tobacco and alcohol are legal, why is that some do not smoke,” queried Kalua.
He asked government to give it a 5 year trial period of uncontrolled production of all the varieties and monitor the direction.
Ntchisi North Member of Parliament Boniface Kadzamira who raised the issue during the last sitting of parliament said time has come for Malawi to wake up and reap from its resources.
“What is honourable when people you represent are denied clear vibrant economic activities in favour of a century old falsehood and manipulated beliefs and legislation,” asked Kadzamira.
He said as a country it is high time Malawi started thinking outside the box and come up with alternative innovations that would boost the country’s revenue base.
Kadzamira said the country’s lack of progress is not due to lack of better ideas or alternatives but due to what he called a deliberate refusal to correct weak spots in the system.
He disclosed that the issue of Hemp has been in corridors of government for the last two years where an agreement was reached to offer license for trials to a certain company but wondered that when he introduced the subject in parliament the system feigned ignorance.
Kadzamira queried the secrecy, saying a transparent and accountable government could have informed the public on what is going on concerning the issue of industrial hemp in Malawi.
The MP said thousands of research has proved that hemp is not a drug but an agricultural cash crop with enormous economic potential capable of producing significant quantities of paper, building materials, sacks, medicines, paint, detergents, vanish, oils, ink, fuels, fabric and textiles, carpeting, biodegradable plastics, jewelry, auto parts, lubricants, beverages, nutritional foods and other things.
On fears that hemp smoking triggers madness, Kadzamira said the type of hemp being advocated for is industrial hemp which is used for manufacturing various things as mentioned above.
He said this hemp has little percentages of THC, a substance responsible for getting high in normal cannabis.
Kadzamira said this hemp is cultivated for its fiber, seeds and medicinal properties adding that it is very different from the smoking hemp.
The parliamentarian said for one to get the satisfaction of getting high they would need to smoke a cigarette the size of an electric pole.
The parliamentarian said apart from its economical benefits industrial hemp net benefits are quite impressive. He said Hemp grows in most climates with moderate water and fertiliser requirements.
Kemet interim chair Sangwani Msofi said it should be emphasized that the hemp being advocated for is pure industrial and not the one for smoking.
“I do not see why Malawi should struggle to improve its economy when it has valuable resource in hemp cultivation,” said Msofi.
He said hemp will bring the much needed forex adding that it can take over from tobacco. Msofi also said Kemet will keep on lobbying government to change its stance on Hemp for the betterment of Malawi.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :