Prohibition Partners/ACA Group
23 December 2022 at 07:00:00
The Global Cannabis Report 2022 says Rwanda is likely to follow South Africa in opening up a domestic market for cannabinoid products. Although non-medical use is prohibited, Rwanda may pay a pivotal role in liberalising attitudes towards cannabis in East and Central Africa.
In October 2020, Rwanda’s parliament approved guidelines for the cultivation, processing and export of medical cannabis and industrial hemp.
Considered to be Africa’s leading anti-corruption, corporate governance, and foreign direct investment destination, Rwanda’s entry into the cannabis industry has been viewed with extreme optimism.
Not only does Rwanda play a role in validating the legitimacy of the African cannabis industry, it is also expected to encourage more African countries to legalise cannabis, particularly in East Africa.
Steady progress has been made since 2020, with Rwanda having designated 130 hectares for cannabis cultivation, and shortlisting five licence applicants for final approval.
Licence requirements are extensive, and especially demanding on security and compliance measures, in order to prevent any flow of product into the illicit market.
Adult-use cannabis continues to be illegal, with harsh sentences for possession and dealing in cannabis. Unlike most legal cannabis markets in Africa, Rwanda has also legalised the domestic use of cannabis and cannabis based products for medical purposes.
The conditions for which cannabis can be prescribed will not be restricted by the Ministry of Health. Instead, the government will rely on specialist doctors who will be vetted and approved by the Ministry of Health to use their judgement for prescribing medical cannabis.
The Rwandan government is expected to finalise its domestic framework for local cannabis prescription and distribution in the coming months, opening up Africa’s second domestic cannabis market, after South Africa.
There are a number of specialised cannabis licences in Rwanda. These include; cultivation, importation of seeds and plant material, export of seed and plant material, cannabis processing, research licences and product export permits.
Although countries such as; Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi have approved cannabis regulations, Rwanda’s entry into the industry, particularly with the establishment of a domestic market, may see it leapfrog its peers in terms of attracting international investors, entrepreneurs, research funding and international operators.