As more multinational companies are setting up cannabis farms across the world, more attention has been diverted to Africa.
More countries are now decriminalizing the use of Marijuana in Africa with the latest being Morocco.
Morocco is one of the world’s largest producers of cannabis and suppliers illegal by-products like Hashish.
The north African country adopted Wednesday the law authorizing the therapeutic use of cannabis, a major reform for this North African country considered as one of the first producers of hashish in the world.
The legal use implies means it can only be used in medicine, cosmetics and even for industrial purposes.
The law was adopted by the House of Representatives with 119 votes in support and 48 against.
Recreational use remains prohibited and subject to prosecution.
Last year, Rwanda permitted the production and processing of medical marijuana with an aim to maximize its profits. The Rwanda government reiterated that its production and use will only be limited to licensed dealers like pharmacies and that cannabis consumption remains illegal.
In South Africa, the government is still pursuing plans to ensure that the Southern African country can maximize on the plant by turning marijuana into a viable business.
South Africa is planning to sign the Cannabis for Private Purpose Bill into law within the 2022/2023 financial year.
This came after a landmark ruling by the Constitutional Court in 2018 permitting the use, possession and cultivation of cannabis in private dwellings was not illegal and should be allowed in South Africa.
The government was given 24 months to enact this law.
Uganda enacted one of the stringent laws to curb the use of cannabis but at the same time allowed the commercialization of the product.
The Ugandan government spent over $264,000 to secure high-quality cannabis seeds in 2019. They also secured buyers from Germany and Canada after getting approval from the European Union in 2019.
Other countries that have legalized the commercial use and export of cannabis in Africa are Lesotho, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The Cannabis sativa has been proved to have over 50,0000 industrial use including as an alternative to paper cardboard, cotton and medicinal purpose.
A 2019 report by the Africa Regional Hemp and Cannabis indicates that Africa’s contribution to the Cannabis global market amounted to $37.3 billion which represents 11% of the world’s market.
According to a UN Office on Drugs and Crime report (UNODC), over the period 1995 – 2005, a total of 19 out of 53 African countries reported the cultivation of cannabis on their territory.
UNODC estimates global cannabis herb production was 42,000 metric tons in 2005. Africa alone accounted for 10,500 metric tons or 25 percent of the total. Together, the American continent accounted for 46 percent of global cannabis production - North America represented 23 percent and South America another 23 percent.
Many countries in the world have criminalized personal use of cannabis especially among smokers because of the risks associated with it.
The drug has been linked to adverse health hazards that include lung cancer, mental illness among other social disorders among those who abuse the substance.
Questions still remain whether countries should legalize it at the expense of individual health but still, stakeholders are pursuing its legalization for industrial use.