LUSAKA, (Xinhua) --
Zambia could be on its path to start cultivation of
marijuana for medicinal purposes following revelation by the
government that the country’s laws allow this.
Minister of Home Affairs Stephen Kampyongo said cultivation of
marijuana for medicinal purpose was allowed but those intending to
venture into the business must obtain a license from the Ministry of
In a ministerial statement in parliament following increased calls
on the government to legalize marijuana cultivation for medicinal
purposes, the minister said it was still an offense for anyone to
cultivate marijuana, even for medicinal purposes, without a license.
Calls on authorities in Zambia to legalize the cultivation of
marijuana for medicinal purposes resurfaced recently when a top
doctor called on them to seriously consider the idea.
“How soon can we have an open and objective evaluation of the
process of getting our home-grown marijuana to the market? Medicinal
marijuana works,” Aaron Mujajati, president of the Zambia Medical
Association, said on his Facebook page.
And commenting on the minister’s announcement that the country has
sufficient laws to allow for such cultivation, the doctor said this
was a step in the right direction.
“We are happy that this is legal and it is now incumbent upon us to
demonstrate to government on what benefits this can have to the
country,” he told Xinhua in an interview.
He however noted that the government would need to come up with
regulations and guidelines to properly guide those who would want to
venture into the business.
The government also will have to come up with proper control
measures to ensure that there is no illegal activity on the growing
of marijuana and to avoid abuse.
“While we welcome the announcement, we feel that more still needed
to be done. As you know, marijuana is still a prohibited drug in the
country. So we would like the government to come up with clear-cut
measures going forward,” he said.
According to him, the issue of standards and what form the drug will
be administered need to be established.
According to medical experts, marijuana has medicinal values that
could go a long way in improving health care delivery in the
Marijuana can be used in relieving pain, especially in cancer
patients, improve poor appetite and weight loss caused by chronic
illness. It is also known to be effective in people with epilepsy.
Cultivation and possession of marijuana is illegal in Zambia and
many people have landed themselves in jail.
Last year, Zambia seized 59 tons of cannabis from various offenders
across the country, according to the country’s Drug Enforcement
However the latest calls have ignited debates in the southern
African nation on the need to consider the economic and medicinal
benefits of marijuana, especially now that the country is calling
for the diversification of the economy to wean off copper
Bwalya Nondo, spokesperson of the opposition National Restoration
Party (NAREP), said the legalization of marijuana for medicinal
purposes was long overdue.
The party, he said, had critically looked into the issue and found
out that the benefits of legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes
far outweigh the disadvantages of legalizing it.
But other people believe that caution is needed as the country
prepares to venture into cultivation of marijuana for medicinal
While acknowledging that cultivation of marijuana for medicinal
purposes was good for the country, local people believe that serious
studies and analysis needed to be undertaken.
“Firstly as Zambia are we ready for this at this point? History has
taught us that despite having good laws to control use of alcohol or
drugs, this has not been reinforced. We have failed with alcohol so
what assurance will we have that we will succeed with marijuana,”
Nita Besa Sichamba said.
Others believe that instead of opening up the cultivation of
marijuana for medicinal purposes, its cultivation should be
restricted to state-run agencies for proper control and monitoring
as opening it up could lead to abuse and illegal activities.
So far, the campaign for the legalization of marijuana has been the
sole role of an opposition political party that has clearly stated
in its policies that it will legalize the cultivation of marijuana
if it formed government.
Peter Sinkamba, president of the Green Party, who has so far stood
in two presidential elections, believes that marijuana has both
commercial and medicinal benefits for the country if properly
cultivated in controlled state-run farms.
According to him, marijuana could earn the country 36 billion U.S.
dollars annually, especially that the country was promoting the
diversification of the economy.