Officials meet over uproar on cannabis fees as Malawi set to start commercial production

Officials at  Malawi Cannabis Regulatory Authority are meeting over an uproar following the gazzeted cannabis license fees after parliament passed a bill in February that makes it legal to cultivate and process cannabis for medicines and hemp fibre used in industry, but stops short of decriminalising recreational use.

Malawi’s parliament passed a bill in February that makes it legal to cultivate and process cannabis for medicines and hemp fibre used in industry, but stops short of decriminalising recreational use

The board chair of Malawi’s regulator, Boniface Kadzamira, said his board had received more than 100 applications for licensing which were under review.

“Our view as regulator is that if we get honest investors, the hemp industry can supplement export revenues from tobacco, and in some cases, surpass it. But it will not immediately replace tobacco,” he added.

Malawians have taken up in various social media platforms to complain that the K7 million (US$10,000) slapped on cannabis growers is very expensive.

Among other things, people and companies will be required to pay $10,000 (equivalent to K7 Million) when acquiring a license to cultivate and sell medicinal hemp.

Apart from that, a fee of $2,000 (Equivalent K1.5 million) is required when obtaining a license to grow and sell industrial hemp.

Dr Ketimo Salipira, acting director general of the Cannabis Regulatory Authority has defended the fees, saying the expectation of the authority is that farmers will operate in cooperatives.

Malawi is famous internationally for its recreational cannabis strain “Malawi Gold”. Cannabis, which can thrive in dry conditions, is a good fit for Malawi’s climate, which has been impacted by the southern African drought.

Salipira, however said the authority will to look into the concerns raised by the public.

Meanwhile, the parliamentary committee on Agriculture has asked government to review fees.

Sameer Suleman, chairperson of the committee described the exorbitant fees as a deliberate move to bar Malawians from benefiting from hemp farming.

Writing on his face book wall, a Malawian who follows closely the production of industrial hemp says the production is both capital and labour intensive.

Wilson Khembo says due to its relation to marijuana, a special permit is required to grow, process, transport and distribute hemp.

“These costs might be slightly lower in Malawi due to cheaper labour costs, however, it is not a cheap crop to produce in general terms,” he says.

“I do understand why the government is trying to put restrictions on hemp production because any lapse in the management and policing of hemp production can lead to serious abuse of the crop,” he says.

He says there is a likelihood that some people may take advantage of  production permit to produce marijuana which remains illegal under Malawi laws.

“I kind of understand the reasoning behind the $10,000 price tag on the production permit because this will stop those with the permit from abusing their licence.

“Putting in place a hemp production control mechanism will cost money and that will be paid for through licensing.

“Maybe the government needs to engage the public a little bit more to justify the $10,000 price tag,” he says.

He says hemp production also requires identifying the market prior to production unlike other crops.

Agriculture offers employment to nearly 80% of Malawi’s population. Tobacco is the country’s major export, and the global decline in its use has impacted the economy. Malawi’s tobacco industry is also marred by exploitation, as international companies such as British American Tobacco have sought cheap labour – including child labour – and low tariffs on raw tobacco for export.

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Davie Banda
Davie Banda
9 months ago

The price is too high to local Malawian who are willing to grow the crop unless government give them some loan to enable them to have the license

Touch down
Touch down
9 months ago

If the leadership is not careful this will be giving foreigners to run the show while locals look on
Thus another way of a defeated campaign promises. Favouring foreigners in a way as they may have the financial muscle over locals

Touch down
Touch down
9 months ago

Pricing on licence not realistic. At least a million plus for growers licence would be realistic considering that the crop is expensive to grow yetvwe have no readily markets available
Rethink otherwise you are blocking locals from growing it and giving the chance to foreigners

Don’t give this chance to foreigners for once

Rise malawi
Rise malawi
9 months ago

This is a simple matter ! Malawi doesn’t have any minerals like gold, copper platinum etc so the government need to take advantage and make GOLD out of this. This is an opportunity for Malawi to supply the region and also relax chamba laws just like other countries like Netherlands. It will promote hemp tourism …

Alinane S.
Alinane S.
9 months ago
Reply to  Rise malawi

Medical marijuana is a hugely beneficial drug – with therapeutic, pain, and stress relief properties. It can also help you to lose weight through helping the body control and regulate blood sugar levels. As the next step, I recommend to the Government of Malawi to set up a certification body (to certify the quality and properties, ensuring that it falls within recommended THC levels, and that its 100% organic, as well as health and safety inspections of ganja farms and labs), and to commence the issuance of licenses for the distribution and sale of medical marijuana to pharmacies and stores… Read more »

Jim Banda (Michigan, United States)
Jim Banda (Michigan, United States)
9 months ago

Thanks to the Government for this initiative. It could not be sooner as millions of people are dying and suffering from pain. Ganja alleviates this pain and ends needless suffering. With harsh drug laws in effect, truly there was no hope for humanity. Thanks again for legalizing marijuana in Malawi. Its time to open the farm for business. I’m coming to Malawi.. 😀

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