On a tempted but hesitant continent, Rwanda has just authorized the cultivation of cannabis for medical purposes and exclusively for export.
"Plant what I say, don't smoke what you plant." Rwanda tries to justify by two means the authorization of the national production of a botanical genus registered on the list of drugs by the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs ratified in 1961 by the United Nations. First argument: the recent validation of the cultivation of cannabis, according to an official press release, "in no way affects the legal status of consumption (…) in the country, which remains prohibited". Local production will therefore be exclusively export oriented. Beware of Rwandans tempted to smoke joints ...
The second bias of the Rwandan position is the distinction, along a narrow crest line, between “recreational” and “therapeutic” cannabis. If the possession, trade and promotion of marijuana have long been prohibited in most countries of the world, its absorption is sometimes tolerated as a psychotropic drug for medical purposes, in particular for its anti-nausea, anti-migraine or anti-insomnia properties.
Internationally, particularly in North America and Europe, this market became so juicy that it generated the phrase "green gold" which, little by little, makes one think more of cannabis than of natural spaces and their tourist exploitation.
Rwanda therefore intends to take advantage of this therapeutic market which, on a world scale, could quickly exceed 200 billion dollars. On Wednesday, the government indicated that the reception of "applications for licenses from investors interested in this high added value crop" would begin. The Rwandan Development Council (RDB) specifies that several companies have submitted their offers to start this local production.
The Rubicon of local consumption
Rwanda is not the only African country to be officially tempted by the market for this so-called "soft" drug, its dose of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) not being likely to cause an overdose. Already, Morocco is the world's leading producer of cannabis resin with an estimated cultivated area of 50 hectares. Southern Africa quickly got into the agricultural and legislative starting blocks, notably the precursor Lesotho, Zimbabwe, South Africa and, with a little delay, Zambia, Kenya and Uganda.
First, cannabis can appear as an alternative to tobacco whose consumption is declining. Second, hemp, which is particularly poor in THC, offers prospects for more presentable uses than “smoke”, such as its use in the manufacture of fabrics or papers.
In these African countries where the cannabis trade, although illegal, is often anchored in the habits of farmers, who will dare to cross the Rubicon of legalizing local consumption?
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