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Why Uganda Should Legalize Growing Cannabis, Here are the benefits

A recent report by the United Nations indicated that last year, the population of Africa was estimated to be about 1.3 billion people contributing 16.72% of the total world population. A report of the World Bank on Africa, also, stated that Sub-Saharan Africa’s growth rate is, projected to average 3.6% in 2019-20.

In a continent, riddled with bad leadership and socio-economic problems, coupled with the mass exodus of its bright minds, moving to North America and Europe, for better working and living conditions, the continent has been left gasping for breath.

The problem here is this; the slow economic growth will find it hard to sustain the large population, thus, creating a snail pace of economic development.

To be able to combat this and give the necessary boost to the economy, some major African countries, are mulling over legalizing Cannabis.

Across the African continent, most governments (Except Lesotho) have frowned at the use of cannabis and have passed into law, stiff punishment for those dabbling in ft, but that seems to be changing.

Uganda, however, landed deals to supply marijuana products to Canada and Germany to the tune of $160 million annually, for the next 10 years, from 2018 and of course this will boost the economy of Uganda, in years to come.

According to a UN survey, more than 10,000 tons of cannabis are produced on the continent of Africa, each year, which could be worth billions of dollars.

If a proper and well-monitored policy is introduced and effectively, carried out, Africa’s cannabis market will be worth a fortune, as the industry in Africa, is projected to be worth more than $7.1 billion, annually, according to research findings, culled from The African Cannabis Report.

The market is expected to be huge, with a lot of economic and job creation potentials that will boost economic growth.
“With affordable land, low-cost labour and an experienced agricultural workforce, Africa offer an enormous opportunity, to local start-ups and foreign companies looking to expand”, states a section on African Cannabis Report.

An Israeli firm, Together Pharma, through its local subsidiary, Industrial Globus Uganda Ltd, are engaging local authorities seeking permission to legally start farming marijuana in Kasese, Busongora and Hoima.

Industrial Globus Uganda Ltd also intends to build a marijuana oil extraction plant in Kampala indicates that its initial investment in Uganda is $5m (Shs18.7 billion).

Health benefits of marijuana

While marijuana is widely regarded as an illegal substance and poses health risks, it is increasingly being accepted and regulated globally because of its health benefit when prescribed by professionals. 21 countries – Chile, Colombia, Canada, Australia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Macedonia, Mexico, Philippines, Poland, Puerto Rico, Uruguay – have issued  full federal legalization or medically legalized the herb.

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Medical marijuana has been lawful in Canada since 2001, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s successful campaign to open up recreational use was hailed as a landmark moment in the legalization movement.

Uruguay became the first country to fully legalize marijuana in 2013 and last year began allowing sales in local pharmacies. In countries like Peru and Spain possession of marijuana isn’t punished as long as it’s for personal and private use. In September, South Africa‘s constitutional court ruled that weed is legal and people are allowed to use marijuana privately.

According to US’s National Institutes of Health, people have used marijuana, or cannabis, to treat their ailments for at least 3,000 years. Cannabidiol, a substance that is present in marijuana, received approval in June 2018 as a treatment for some types of epilepsy. There is widespread belief that marijuana is an effective treatment for a wide assortment of ailments.

Over the years, research has yielded results to suggest that marijuana may be of benefit in the treatment of some conditions like chronic pain, alcoholism and drug addiction, Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and social anxiety, cancer, Multiple sclerosis, epilepsy. But even with the positives, marijuana when regularly and excessively used can cause mental health problems, Testicular cancer, Respiratory disease.

Many scientists and health bodies — including the American Cancer Society (ACS) — support the need for further scientific research on the use of marijuana and cannabinoids to treat medical conditions.

Economic Benefits To Uganda

With such a significant investment from Industrial Globus Uganda Ltd worth $5m, Uganda will the first country to legalize farming of the herb. This means it will be able to export to neighboring country and earn the country insurmountable amounts of revenue and foreign exchange.

The pharmaceutical sector in Uganda will earn a breakthrough as it will reduce on the expenses to import medicinal marijuana. They will be able to get it locally.

Forbes reports that earlier this month the ETFGI Consultancy Firm revealed that the world’s first cannabis exchange-traded fund is on its way to becoming the second most profitable exchange-traded fund (ETF) in Canada after offering 50% return so far this year. In October 2018, Canada became the second country in the world, after Uruguay, and the first country within the G20 to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.

According to an Investopedia report October, last year, the economic benefits of legalizing weed have already been apparent as the first states in the United States of America have moved to change their legal positions. The report said legal marijuana could mean a big push for state economies and big bucks for both the state and the federal governments.  

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Investopedia said that better than expected sales of marijuana in Colorado and Washington over the past several years have resulted in buoyant tax revenues. In 2015, Colorado collected more than $135 million in taxes and fees on medical and recreational marijuana. Sales in North America grew 30%, to $6.7 billion, in 2016, and is projected to increase to $20.1 billion by 2021, according to Arcview Market Research.

With other countries progressing and starting to realize social and economic benefits from legalizing the growing, trading and prescription of marijuana then maybe it is time for Uganda to size up this adventure and work out the legal regimes to support this new cash cow.

Here is a list of African Countries already reaping steadily from the Cannabis as Uganda stalls the legalization process;

1. Nigeria: Prior to making the move, towards the legalization of the cannabis industry, the Nigerian government had taken a tough stance, to cut off the use and abuse of marijuana, from the general populace.
Recently, however, the Nigerian government started to realize the political-economic importance, that comes with the cultivation and growing of cannabis.

2. South Africa: In 2018, the constitutional court in South Africa passed a rule that banished all criminal offenses attached to the recreational use of cannabis, and two years was given to the government of South Africa to merge the cannabis laws with the constitution.

3. Morocco: In 2014, an opposition party in the Moroccan parliament proposed a bill that will lead, to the legalization of the production of marijuana, for medical use, but the bill was rebuffed, and it failed to pass. Although, Cannabis has been tolerated, to an extent in the country.
As of today, Morocco employs over 800,000 people and is worth $10 billion annually, in sales. Although cannabis is tolerated for personal use, it is, still illegal.

4. Ghana: There have been diverse calls around Ghana for the legalization of Cannabis, as the huge potential of cannabis is, much more pronounced than before.
According to Myjoyonline, the legalization of Cannabis, still faces a major snag, as government officials and mental health experts, still frown at it.

5. Kenya: In 2018, a bill containing the legalization of marijuana was introduced by a member of the Kenyan parliament and this sparked a series of debates.

“A controlled cannabis industry benefits, (Medicinal and Commercial), overshadow the need for its outright ban”, according to Kenneth Okoth, the parliamentarian, who proposed this bill.


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