Although it is considered illegal in certain nations, several African countries have embraced cannabis and legalised it for specific uses.
Compared to years when its legal usage was not feasible, the market on the continent is rapidly expanding. This rapid growth is driven by its potential to generate revenue for the debt-stricken continent.
According to Prohibition Partners, a research and consultancy business specialising in legal cannabis, the African market will be worth $7.1 billion by 2023.
In 2019, the legal and criminal cannabis markets in Southern Africa generated about US$1,37 billion (R21,92 billion) in revenue. This is to expand by 6 to 7% by 2022, with projected revenue of $2 billion (R32 million) in 2024.
With the continent concentrating on medicinal uses, the global medical cannabis market was worth $7.8 billion in 2020. This is to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.3% through 2026.
Here are some African countries where cannabis has been legalised.
In 2017, Lesotho became the first country in Africa to legalise marijuana. Although it is one of the poorest countries on the continent, it has risen to become the country producing the best cannabis in the world.
The country’s geographical location, being one of the world’s highest above sea level, provided an ecological advantage for cannabis growth.
Cannabis in the country dated back to the 16th century and served as one of the main crops by the nineteenth century.
The government issues a licence for medical cannabis cultivation. Medicinal cannabis is controlled similarly to pharmaceuticals, with strict guidelines for cultivation, processing, extraction, and formulation to ensure customer safety.
In 2021, the country became the first African country to be awarded a license to export medicinal cannabis by the European Union (EU).
The Lesothan administration has been setting the framework to become a powerhouse in the cannabis market for the continent since medicinal cannabis legislation took effect.
In addition, Lesotho has witnessed an inflow of foreign investment from corporations eager to profit from the country’s long history of cannabis production and low labour costs.
In 2018, the South African government legalised private recreational cannabis usage and the possession and production of cannabis in private residences. This was owing to the South African cannabis market’s potential economic growth.
Although some South Africans consider it wrong, many people allow its use.
In South Africa, between 2019 and 2021, the cannabis market for Cannabidiol (CBD) rose dramatically in terms of the retail sale price (RSP).
Between 2022 and 2026, the market is estimated to increase at a CAGR of around 28.4%. This increase in the CBD industry, as well as the economic potential of cannabis,
South Africa hopes to harness the multibillion-dollar cannabis and hemp industries with the plan to create more employment and attract international investment.
Malawi became the latest country in southern Africa to legalise cannabis cultivation, sale, and export in 2020. On the other hand, cannabis for recreational use remains prohibited.
The regulation was passed due to the fast-growing global medicinal and industrial cannabis industry.
The bill establishes the Cannabis Regulatory Authority, which issues permits for cultivating, processing, storing, selling, exporting, and distributing cannabis. It also provides companies and organisations with permission to conduct scientific research.
Cannabis cultivation and sale for medical, pharmaceutical and industrial uses are allowed in Morocco. Recreational use, on the other hand, is still prohibited.
The North African country is known for producing hashish and is only second to Afghanistan in terms of cannabis output.
In 2021, cannabis was grown on 73,000 hectares of land in Morocco 2021.
Even while stimulants for medicinal or recreational purposes are still banned in Rwanda, the nation has allowed the production and export of cannabis.
With a global cannabis industry estimated to be $345 billion, the government wants to increase its export profits from the fast-growing cannabis markets in the United States and Europe.
Dr Daniel Ngamije, Rwanda’s Minister of Health, stated that its usage is outlawed despite the government’s desire to benefit from marijuana production and export.