Today we're talking about weed. Ha. Okay let's be serious for a minute. In 2003, African governments pledged to allocate 10% of their national budgets to the agricultural sector, but the continent could be missing out on a potential cash crop that could transform the lives of smallholder farmers and economies dramatically: marijuana.
An estimated 38.2 million African adults (or 7.7% of the adult population in 2007) take the drug each year – far higher than the 3.8% of cannabis users among the world population aged 15 to 64. Ghana is currently the third largest consumer of marijuana in the world. And its market in Africa could potentially generate $79.8 billion a year and Africa is already one of the world's largest producers of marijuana and cannabis. That makes a case for its legalization, at least for medical and scientific purposes.
And Lesotho agrees, because the country just granted Verve Dynamics, a medical company, a license for the cultivation, processing and sale of marijuana for medical and scientific purposes in the country. The license was provided by the Lesotho Ministry of Health.
Verve kicked the project off officially in July 2017 growing only high Cannabidiol (CBD) containing Sativa strains, but the license allows them to explore other varieties once they’ve established themselves within the market. Lesotho has always been a big producer of marijuana - in 2015, it was ranked as the country's most significant cash crop, with farmers choosing to cultivate marijuana over traditional crops because it commanded a far higher market price on the black market both at home and abroad. In the 2000s, it was estimated that 70% of the cannabis in neighboring country, South Africa, originated in Lesotho.
An excerpt of a statement from Verve Dynamics reads:
"Access to medicinal cannabis on the African continent has taken another major step forward today and Verve Dynamics is honoured to be the first company in Africa to have been granted regulatory approval to begin the process of growing and producing high quality cannabis extracts commercially."
The Lesotho government’s decision to move forward with this historic decision means that Lesotho will play a significant role in developing this industry, both locally and internationally. In addition to that, Lesotho is one of the most economically advantageous countries in the world to produce large volumes of high quality, low cost marijuana due to its expertise in high altitude cultivation, a knowledgeable and skilled labour force, and supportive forward-looking Government.
Here's hoping other African governments follow in Lesotho's footsteps, because as is obvious in The Netherlands, and in other countries where marijuana use is legal, its contribution to the GDP are not to be dismissed. Legalize it, tax it, regulate it and grow the economy.
In North Korea, marijuana is considered food and not a drug, and it is sold in food markets.