PML Daily reports…..KAMPALA – Cabinet is considering proposals from several companies that are seeking to venture into growing cannabis in Uganda for medicinal purposes.
In Uganda, the use of cannabis for recreational purposes is illegal but Cabinet is considering proposals from a series of foreign firms that seek to make the banned substance produce drugs.
Government cannot ignore the proposals given the amount of money involved (over UGX11 trillion) and now it is believed they are concentrating on regulation.
A Cabinet information paper tabled by the Ministry of Health reads; “The minister of Health has received applications from 14 companies interested in the cultivation, extraction and export of cannabis oil for medical purposes in line with the provisions of Narcotic Drug and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Act 2015”.
“There is a big economic value potential for the country considering the rate at which countries are opening up their markets for the sale of cannabis products for medical purposes,” the Ministry of Health notes in the brief to Cabinet.
The minister lists the benefits to include employment opportunities, taxes, technology transfer, investment opportunities, and trade surplus, among others. For example, the paper notes, cannabis farming is labour intensive, all plant care and harvesting are done by hand, providing employment opportunities.
The Health Ministry, however, warns that there is reasonable fear that legal cultivation of medical cannabis could lead to an increase of the product, which will lead to the escalation of cannabis abuse and associated consequences.
“The risks associated or resulting from the legal cultivation of cannabis are mitigated by the fact that cannabis is a highly controlled plant globally, regulations are overly strict, which ensures maximum adherence,” she adds.
In the Cabinet paper, it is proposed that the Minister of Health will issue written consent for the cultivation of prohibited plants, NDA will issue production and export licences and both the police and NDA will conduct inspection and enforcement of the law.
“As much as the area of cannabis cultivation and extraction on an industrial scale is new in Uganda, stringent measures are in place to regulate it. These projects will create jobs, bring in foreign currency, and above all, there is no imminent threat to the people of Uganda or the environment if the measures put in place are adhered to,” the Health Ministry memo to Cabinet concludes.
Already, Industrial Hemp Uganda Ltd has been licenced to deal in cannabis in the country for the past decade with operations in Kasese and other areas.
The cabinet is thus studying the applications to ensure that the sector is not messed up.