Government will repeal the law on cultivation and processing of cannabis specifically for medicinal and scientific purposes to allow production on a larger scale and for export, a Cabinet minister has said.
Briefing the media on the 28th Cabinet Decision Matrix yesterday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said Cabinet had considered and approved the proposal on the production of industrial hemp in Zimbabwe as presented by acting Industry and Commerce Minister July Moyo.
Industrial hemp is a strain of a cannabis species that is grown specifically for industrial uses of its derived products. Its fibre is used in textiles and paper, and it also produces edible seeds.
Minister Mutsvangwa said Government saw the plant as a possible substitute for tobacco, the country’s biggest export earning crop.
“The benefits to be derived from industrial hemp include the following: production of building products, textiles, paper and plastics from hemp fibre; processing of fuel from hemp seed; the crop can be a good substitute to the leading export crop, tobacco, which is currently facing possibilities of being banned internationally due to its adverse effects on health; hemp is bio-degradable, compostable, recyclable, non-toxic and capable of carbon sequestration and hence, reduces global warming effects and industrial hemp will widen the country’s industrial and export base.
“Currently, Zimbabwe, through Statutory Instrument 62 of 2018 only allows for the cultivation and processing of cannabis specifically for medicinal and scientific purposes.
“In view of the foregoing, the law governing the use and control of hemp in the country will be repealed to reflect the current industrial thrust of the country,” Minister Mutsvangwa said.
On the slow process in applying for licences to grow cannabis for medical and research purposes, Minister Moyo said production would be decriminalised.
“The Minister of Justice has been directed to say ‘go and make amendments’ to the criminal code in our system so that people who will grow hemp don’t have to be criminalised,” he said.