By Wilson Box
The Zimbabwe Civil Liberties and Drug Network (ZCLDN) welcomes and applauds the recent announcement by the Government in legalising the production of cannabis for medicinal and scientific purposes.
On 28 April, 2018, the Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa announced in a Government Gazette under Statutory Instrument 62 of 2018 (Dangerous Drugs – Production of Cannabis for Medicinal and Scientific Use Regulations).
The benefits by the government of legalising cannabis production are immense as palliative patients will be able to access treatment from easily available and affordable cannabis herbs. It is also welcome news when we consider the potential of the government raising tax revenue from export sales.
Research carried out by respected international scientists has shown that chemical compounds present in cannabis prolong life, improves judgment and quickens the mind.
Medicinal cannabis is also known to treat diseases such as; Alzheimer, asthma, chronic pain, Hepatitis C, epilepsy, cancer and hypertension.
Cannabis can also be used in various forms such as nutritional supplements, animal feed, paper products, body care products, construction and as essential oils.
The agriculture sector is also set to grow as more people will be employed in cannabis production and processing while farmers also become more productive.
However, we note with concern the high charges of $50 000 for one to get a licence from the government to grow the plant. The figure is not only exorbitant but drives away ordinary farmers from being assisted by their government. We, therefore, urge farmers to engage the government so that they are able to benefit from the policy and are not left out.
The announcement by government is the beginning of a broader policy shift towards a more comprehensive drug policies in Zimbabwe. We applaud the good move, and hope to see changes in policy and legal responses to drug use in Zimbabwe towards a more human, health, scientific and evidence based approach in the near future.
Once the process of cannabis production put in place, the ZCLDN will advocate that some of the proceeds channeled to assist drug users in accessing relevant health services.