Malawi’s Parliament on Thursday passed a bill that legalizes the cultivation and processing of cannabis for medical and industrial uses but failed to decriminalize recreational use.

The legalization of hemp in Malawi was one of the demands of the Hemp Association of Malawi.

Agriculture Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa introduced the Cannabis Regulation Bill saying it would help diversify the economy and boost the country’s exports. Especially at a time when tobacco exports are declining.

The legalization of this crop will contribute to economic growth, he said.

The Cannabis Regulatory Bill establishes the Cannabis Regulatory Authority (CRA). Which will be responsible for licensing and regulating medical and industrial cannabis programs. The CRA will grant licenses to grow, process, store, sell, export and distribute cannabis.

The Authority will also grant permits to conduct scientific research programs . So , all licensees will need to comply with safety measures regarding the cultivation, processing, storage, and distribution of cannabis.

Cannabis shall grow according to strict production practices, including the non-involvement of children, the nature and quality of the soil, and the control of pesticides and fertilizers.

The legislation will further regulate the processing of cannabis and the packaging of cannabis to ensure that the description, labeling and net weight of the product can be clearly labeled.

Under the legislation, specific persons will be allowed to handle medical cannabis. While patients who may be eligible for cannabis-based treatment will be registered.

Malawi joins the first African countries to allow the cultivation of cannabis, mainly for export. In December 2019, Zambia legalized cannabis production for this purpose, while Lesotho legalized in 2017 and Zimbabwe in 2018. South Africa is in the process of legalizing cannabis at all, although medical production of cannabis is already possible.

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