Rwanda has become the first East African nation to legalize the growing of marijuana, but only for medical purposes.
The legal cannabis industry could be worth more than $7 billion by 2023 if legislation is implemented across the continent, according to estimates. However, its consumption is still illegal in many African countries.
According to africafeeds.com, the country’s Health Minister Daniel Ngamije said on Tuesday Rwanda wants to “contribute to research centres and drugs industries to supply them raw material so that we gain money”.
But the Rwanda Development Board said in a statement that only licensed producers will be involved in the trade and that cannabis consumption remains prohibited locally.
Effort to legalize the growing of cannabis for medical purposes started in 2010 when the government introduced a bill in parliament.
Rwandan officials said at the time that new changes to the country’s laws on cannabis was “to contribute to the protection of the population while ensuring that drugs and psychotropic substances are exclusively available for scientific and medical purposes.”
With the legalization of Cannabis for industrial and health purposes, Rwanda joins countries like Ghana, Malawi, Zimbabwe and South Africa who have already changed their laws on narcotics.
Although illegal to posses it in Africa, cannabis is an important source of income for many.
Many African countries had tried to limit the use of marijuana but in recent years due to the lucrative nature of it, laws on the substance are changing.
Cannabis Sativa has over 50,000 industrial uses, including being used as a cheaper alternative to cotton, paper car dashboards, and building houses and for medicinal purposes.
The Global Cannabis market is estimated currently at over US$ 100 billion and estimate for the next five years peg the market size at a staggering $ 300 billion.
The legal cannabis industry could be worth more than $7 billion by 2023 should more counties in Africa legalize the substance.