Parliament has passed the Cannabis Regulation Bill which allows the cultivation of cannabis for medicinal benefits.
Agriculture Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa introduced the bill Cannabis saying it would help diversify the economy and boost the country’s exports especially at this time when tobacco exports are dwindling.
“Legalisation of this crop will contribute to economic growth, ” he said.
The Cannabis Regulation Bill establishes the Cannabis Regulatory Authority (CRA) which will be responsible for licensing and regulating medicinal and industrial hemp programmes.
The CRA will grant licences to cultivate, process, store, sell, export and distribute cannabis
The Authority will also grant permits to conduct scientific research programmes and all licensees will be required to comply with security measures regarding cultivation, processing, storage and distribution of cannabis.
The crop will also be grown under strict production practices among them, non-involvement of children, nature and quality of soil and nature, nature of pesticides and quality of chemicals and fertiliser.
The legislation will further regulate the processing of cannabis and the packaging of cannabis to ensure product description, labeling and net weight is clearly labeled.
Under the legislation, there will be specific persons authorized to handle medicinal cannabis while qualified patients of medicinal cannabis will be issued Registry Identification Cards
There will also be inspectors to check compliance and enforcement of the Cannabis Regulation law.
People or organisations found cultivating, processing, or distributing cannabis in contravention of the law will face a fine of K50 million and maximum imprisonment of 25 years.
Under the law, refusing to produce documentation or making false statements will be an offense liable to a fine of K10 million and imprisonment for five years.