Is Africa Set to Become the Next World Cannabis Powerhouse?

Is Africa set to be the next cannabis powerhouse? If cannabis were to be exported legally throughout the African content it could bring in as much as $79.8-billion (R983-billion) per year to the continent as a whole.
Cannabis was introduced into Eastern Africa from Asia in the early 1500’s, where it rapidly dispersed across the content throughout the century. The Hemp plant became a cash crop under colonial regimes. The plant was outlawed across the continent in the 1920’s, mainly because of its psychoactive effects, however, the illegality of cannabis has never hindered the people of Africa from growing and consuming it.
Growing knowledge was passed on from generation to generation, but as the younger generations moved to the city to look for employment, much of this knowledge was lost, and so the quality of cannabis deteriorated somewhat.

Morocco is the second largest producer of ‘Hashish’ (Cannabis) in the world, second only to Afghanistan. In 2014 a movement made efforts to legalize medical cannabis but eventually fell to pieces.

Cannabis use in Lesotho dates back to the 16th century and is now one of the primary cash-crops found in this country. Lesotho was the first country in Africa to grant licences legalizing the cultivation, processing and export of cannabis, paving the way for the rest of the African continent.

South Africa
In March 2017, in a landmark ruling in the Western Cape High Court, the Davis Judgment was passed, allowing people to possess, grow and use cannabis in the privacy of their own homes. The case is on appeal by the state and since then, not much has happened. There has only been one trial licence released in South Africa but this is aimed at corporations and not the home grower.

There’s always some kind of call to action on the topic of cannabis, which, ironically, coincides with outdoor growing season every year. In late 2017 the South African government released a draft guideline for the cultivation, processing and distribution of medical cannabis in South Africa, indicating that legal licences could be ushered in soon. Legalization in South Africa is not an IF it’s a WHEN.

It’s rumoured that former president Robert Mugabe made allowance for large scale cannabis exports under the old regime, even although it was illegal at the time. In April 2018 Zimbabwe became the second country in Africa to legalize cannabis for medical and scientific research purposes. It is still illegal for recreational use. Five-year licences will allow growers to possess, transport and sell fresh cannabis, cannabis oil, and dried product. Although it is legal for medicinal purposes, in order to grow cannabis commercially farmers will have to pay $50 000 for a permit, which makes this an inaccessible option for poorer farmers. In May 2018, after receiving over 350 applications, the Zimbabwe government paused the process calling for more information.

The current law in Zambia allows for Medical Cannabis to be cultivated and exported. In May 2018 the government stated that they would be putting policies in place to make way for licence to be issued.

Although Chamba (cannabis) is illegal in Malawi, it is one of the country’s biggest unofficial exports. Being the biggest producer of cannabis in Sub-Saharan Africa, Malawi Gold is a world-renowned strain of cannabis grown exclusively in Malawi. Malawi is also famous for the Malawi COB, cannabis dried in banana leaves in the ground.

Hemp has been legally grown in Malawi since 2013. Invergrow is growing industrial hemp varieties whilst Ikaros Africa is working with high CBD varieties for the medicinal market.

Ghana are heavy consumers of Marijuana. Although the plant is illegal, it is widely tolerated. In recent years, pro-legalization campaigns have been gaining steam but no legalization laws have been passed.

Many prominent figures in the government have made statements about how the legalization of cannabis could boost the economy, but over the past few years many conversations have been had on the topic, without the country moving forward with any legalization laws. Many arrests are still being made for the cultivation of Cannabis.
Cannabis is grown with the “Kings Blessing”. One prominent Cannabis business operates out of Swaziland exporting cannabis products, oils into South Africa daily.

Moving forward: Africa could leverage its position in the world cannabis market - potentially bringing in massive amounts of revenue in for the continent. If Africa makes its move quickly, it could uplift many Third World countries, allowing them to rise out of poverty. Although no massive strides have been made to legalize the substance, many countries have indicated their interest in legalizing cannabis for export for their own economic gain.