Deutsche Welle report…

Pakistan’s government is optimistic that hemp production could help farmers tap into the lucrative global cannabis market and earn some foreign exchange.

Pakistan’s government announced in September that it would allow the industrial production of hemp, a type of cannabis plant containing cannabidiol (CBD) that advocates say has numerous medicinal and relaxing properties. Hemp, however, does not contain significant quantities of high-inducing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).  

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government has struggled to boost the country’s foreign exchange coffers, which have been drained by a struggling economy, fiscal deficits and inflation.

Fawad Chaudhry, the science and technology minister, said Pakistan could rake in about $1 billion (€820 million) in revenue over the next three years by capturing a share in the booming CBD market. Chaudhry said the industrial hemp market was worth about $25 billion globally and several countries were relaxing laws targeting cannabis-based products such as CBD oils.

The government’s decision came after a UN commission voted to remove the cannabis made for medicinal purposes from a category of the world’s most dangerous drugs. Experts view this change as a “watershed moment” for greater medical research and legalization globally.

Cannabis’s huge potential

Hemp production could open up new opportunities for farmers in Pakistan at a time when they’re struggling with the slowdown in the cotton industry. Cotton accounts for 8% of the South Asian nation’s GDP and 64% of exports, but production dropped by a staggering 20% in 2019, slashing growers’ incomes.

Hemp grows almost as a weed in parts of Pakistan — including in great abundance in the capital, where huge bushes can be seen sprouting at traffic roundabouts.

“Hemp is highly resistant to bad weather. There are no pesticides needed in its production, which makes it eco-friendly and safe. It can also be grown in abundance on little land and requires less water than cotton,” Helga Ahmed, a German environmentalist who has been living in Pakistan for the past 60 years, told DW.

Ahmed has been actively lobbying for the legalization of hemp production in the country and noted that the applications of hemp go beyond consumer products like textiles and CBD oils. She shared that greener hemp production practices can be leveraged to tackle climate change and promote sustainable social housing.

Read full article at