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Zimbabwe’s high security cannabis production facility – Buffalo Range Prison

A prison in Zimbabwe has secured one of the country’s first cannabis export licenses. Buffalo Range Prison has 10 ha of agricultural land near Chiredzi in south-east Zimbabwe which will be used to grow high quality medical marijuana for the European market. 

According to experts, Buffalo Range Prison could become a major forex earner with the Zim government hoping to pick up annual taxes of the move of US $19 million from taxes on cannabis.

The deal was put together by Ivory Medical, a Harare-based consultancy that conducted the environmental impact assessment report and proposed the prison as a location because of the high level of security.

The company is in partnership with NSK Holdings and international investors as funders, Ministry of Health and Child Welfare and a Portuguese company, Symtomax, which provides technical and farming techniques.

The Zimbabwean government is issuing three types of cannabis permits – for growers, resarchers and industrial hemp merchants. Agriculture Minister Anxious Masuka says “Growers are only allowed to cultivate, market and sell industrial hemp and researchers may cultivate for research purposes. A merchant can contract individual farmers, procure and process industrial hemp into a specified product”.

This follows the government’s enactment of Statutory Instrument 62 of 2018 (SI 62/2018) or the Dangerous Drugs- Production of Cannabis for Medicinal and Scientific Research Regulations.

The Statutory Instrument was later transformed to SI 178/2018 which gave birth to the reduction of application fee for a licence to grow cannabis from $50 000 to $10 000.

The same law allows Robert Mugabe International Airport as the only port of entry of cannabis products.

Work is in progress in Chiredzi to start farming of the psychoactive plant, which government intends to use for medicinal and scientific research after a Harare based company Ivory Medical was authorised to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment for the project.

The company, through its business vehicle, Pamberi Qubhekhani Investments, is in the process of finalising documents for an offer letter to lease 80 hectares of land at the remaining extension of Buffalo Range.

Peter Mugodhi, Chiredzi District Environmental Management Agency manager, confirmed his office had received the documents.

“Although it is a very sensitive project, which seems to be the first of its kind in Chiredzi and Masvingo Province as a whole, we need thorough consultations involving all stakeholders. I am happy that the consultant is in agreement to this,” Mugodhi exclusively told CAJ News.

Elizabeth Bakasa, the project consultant, also confirmed consultations were in progress.”We have a document at EMA offices and I have since issued some stakeholders and residents with questionnaires as a broader way of our consultations,” she said

It is envisaged that Zimbabwe will get foreign currency worth $7 billion by 2023 from sales of cannabis products.

Ivory Medical intends to extract cannabis oil from the plant with a vision to be the world class end to end medical cannabis oil producer operating from Zimbabwe, according to its website.

 

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