Malawi has passed a bill decriminalizing cannabis for medicinal and industrial purposes.
The bill comes five years after a motion to legalize industrial hemp.
Zimbabwe, Zambia and Lesotho previously legalized medicinal cannabis; medicinal and recreational use was decriminalized in South Africa in 2018.
“Today is a very glorious day for me personally and, I think, for the entire nation,” said Boniface Kadzamira, the former Member of Parliament who tabled the topic in 2015, following the successful passage of the bill.
The economic potential of the industry was the main driver behind the passage of the bill. The national poverty rate in Malawi was 50 percent in 2016, and Malawi remains one of the poorest countries in the world, according to the World Bank.
“It is my strong view that cannabis will in the long run replace tobacco to become our major cash crop—that will contribute hugely to the GDP,” said Kadzamira. Nearly 80 percent of Malawi’s population is employed in agriculture, and authorities want the newly legalized cannabis sector to be processed in-house unlike tobacco.