By Talent Chimutambgi
The industrial hemp being grown in Zimbabwe has vast differences with marijuana in that it has a low content of the intoxicating substances and can be used for medicinal purposes, an official has said.
Zimbabwe Industrial Hemp Trust (ZIHT) founder and chief executive officer Dr Zorodzai Maroveke said at workshop to boost hemp production yesterday that there was confusion as people treated industrial hemp and marijuana as the same.
“The difference is that industrial hemp is a version of cannabis which has a very low content of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the psychoactive content, while marijuana has got highest levels,” she said.
“Marijuana is more controlled because it has mind -altering properties, and it is classified under drugs.”
Dr Maroveke said the confusion was inhibiting investors’ confidence because of a wrong portrayal that Government had legalised the smoking of marijuana.
“ZIHT is concerned about the way the people are confusing industrial hemp and cannabis since a lot of people do not know what has been legalised,” said Dr Maroveke.
“We are calling on the media to help the public to understand the difference between industrial hemp and marijuana.
This year, the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs gazetted the production of industrial hemp through the Ministry of Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement, while last year, Government through Statutory Instrument 62 promoted the production of medicinal cannabis regulated by the Ministry of Health and Child Care. Agronomy Research Institute head Miss Mazvita Chiduwa said there was need for coordinated efforts with the media as the ministry was working tirelessly to bring clarity.
“We have got a policy framework that whoever is going to be involved in industrial hemp production must be licensed to do so by the ministry, hence the media should assist in educating the public,” said Ms Chiduwa.
“They must declare the seed that they are going to use so that we are certain that it is consistent with what has been defined as industrial hemp, and it is very important to distinguish between the two, (marijuana and industrial hemp).”
Hemp production has more than 25 000 uses, and is critical for generating foreign currency, foreign direct investment, as well as helping the environment through nitrogen fixation in the soil.
It makes products like clothes, fibre boots, insulation boards, bricks and even food.