12 September 2022, 08:00:00
"This is a Zimbabwean thing, let's go for it. Let us not say anyone is wrong or not; I encourage you to do research and studies here before you export" Chiwenga tells medical cannabis conference in Harare.
Zimbabwe’s Health and Child Care minister Constantino Chiwenga says cannabis laws must be changed that favour domestic consumption and export. Speaking through his deputy, John Mangwiro, Chiwenga told a round-table discussion on 9 September 2022 that cannabis was a "God-given gift" for the country’ that should be embraced by Zimbabweans.
"This is a Zimbabwean thing, let's go for it. Let us not say anyone is wrong or not; I encourage you to do research and studies here before you export," Chiwenga said.
"Like the Medical Association of Zimbabwe said, we need to tweak the laws that are favourable for our consumption and exportation.
However, Zimbabwe remains prohibitionist as far as general adult-use consumption is concerned. The country legalized cannabis for medicinal use only in 2018, while possession and consumption of “recreational’ cannabis remains outawed with the sanction of jail time.
"While the government encourages the legal use of medicinal hemp (cannabis), any criminal diversion of the herb will not go unpunished” said Chiwenga. “There is a need to work along protocol lines to ensure the legality of practice."
The roundtable discussion was held under the theme Unlocking the Challenges and Potential of Cannabis as an Alternative Medicine.
"Whatever good or bad about our cannabis must be dealt with by us then we publish it to the general public and internationally," Chiwenga said.
"It is a common cause that the advanced economies have made significant progress in research, production and marketing of products from cannabis. Resultantly, it is incumbent on us not to be left behind if there are genuine socio-economic and environmental benefits that accrue from this effort."
SAPPS Pharmaceuticals managing director Kudzai Hove said there was need for value addition to ensure the country benefited from the production of cannabis.
"It does not make sense that our farmers farm the herb but we cannot benefit from it as it is exported and imported back at a higher price tag," Hove said.