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Explainers - News around Africa - Profiles - December 17, 2019

Zambia Legalises Cannabis for Exports to Boost Economy

Cannabis production and export has been legalised in Zambia to boost its economy and for medicinal uses.

Zambia is one of the becoming the newest African countries to shift stance on the drug to give way for financial boost or medicinal purposes after Lesotho, Zimbabwe,

In a report by Reuters, the approval was announced in a statement by the government’s chief spokeswoman Dora Siliya on Monday, December 16.

According to the statement, the export of cannabis was granted at a special cabinet meeting on Dec. 4, which joins the southern African country to a host of nations that are considering its legalised, or have completely approved its uses as the world gradually changes its position on the drug for economic and its medical benefits.

Siliya explained that issuance of the necessary licences by the government will be carried out by the ministry of health while the guidelines for the use of the drug will be coordinated by a technical committee made up of ministers from a range of departments.

Peter Sinkamba who is Zambian opposition Green Party President, had been advocating for the export of cannabis since 2013, saying that the decision could earn country up to $36 billion on a yearly basis.

“Depending on how properly this is done, this could just change the face of Zambia’s economy,” Sinkamba told Reuters. “This could be a blessing or a curse, like diamonds and gold, depending on the policy direction.”

In a report by CNN’s Kieron MonksUN survey, ore than 10,000 tons of cannabis are produced on the continent each year, which advocates believe could be worth billions of dollars in a rapidly expanding global market for legal weed.

Zambia’s drive for the decision is owing to its hefty fiscal deficit and growing debt challenge. There are growing fears that the country is headed for a debt crisis as its growth in external debt was $10.5 billion at the end of 2018 from $8.74 billion a year earlier.

The IMF had warned that growth is likely to remain subdued over the medium term as Zambia cut its 2019 growth forecast in September due to bad weather hitting crop production and electricity generation.

Also Read: Zambian US dollar bonds still weakening – Analysts

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