People looking to grow and sell Cannabis in Malawi will have to pay US$10,000 (about K7.6 million) to get a licence.
This is according to a government notice issued by Minister of Agriculture Lobin Lowe and dated 20 November, 2020.
The Cannabis Regulation (fees) Regulations are under the Cannabis Regulation Act of 2020 which legalised the cultivation of cannabis in Malawi. Lowe said the regulations were made on the advice of the Cannabis Regulatory Authority.
For every application made regarding Cannabis a farmer will have to pay US$1,000 (K765,000) non-refundable fee and US$500 (K382,000) for industrial hemp.
There is a US$10,000 fee for medicinal cannabis cultivation and US$2,000 (about K1.5 million) for cultivation of industrial hemp.
People who want an application to process cannabis will part ways with US$10,000 for a processing licence while for industrial hemp the fee is US$5,000 (K3.8 million).
A licence to store cannabis is pegged at US$500 while a licence to transport cannabis is at US$2,800.
For private hospitals, they will pay US$500 to administer cannabis as drug with government hospitals required to pay US$200 (K153,000) for the same purpose.
Meanwhile, social commentator Onjezani Kenani has described the fees as exorbitant saying indigenous Malawians may not afford to cultivate the crop.
He said: “The government has given permission to grow cannabis with one hand and has taken it away with the other. Because the licence fees are insanely high, designed to exclude indigenous Malawians from taking part in the farming and trading of the crop. In all probability the one who came up with the fees had smoked cannabis.”
Legal expert Ralph Kasambara also expressed similar concerns in a Facebook post. He noted that the fees are in USD for licences to be issued in Malawi in respect of domestic activities.
He said: “I guess message is clear as to who are the targeted beneficiaries of the Cannabis Regulation Act 2020.”