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eSwatini Cautiously Plans to Legalize Medical Cannabis

eSwatini Cautiously Plans to Legalize Medical Cannabis

Eswatini is joining many of its African neighbours in legalizing cannabis for medical purposes, revising a colonial drug law dating back a century.

Nicole Potter, High Times

18 June 2024 at 08:00:00

eSwatini’s government, led by King Mswati III, has quietly introduced legislation that would legalize cannabis, joining other African nations that now encourage its development for medical purposes.

This report from High Times, first published on 20 March 2024.

Government spokesperson Alpheous Nxumalo believes that legalizing cannabis will help limit the black market, increase tax revenue and empower Eswatini farmers.

“The legislation will also provide measures to guard against increasing the black market. This has robbed government taxes, Eswatini, an opportunity to grow their economy and robbed even the farmers themselves who have been trying to make a living using this cannabis. We look forward to the unbanning of the cannabis plant as an opportunity to develop the country, our economy and to empower Eswatini themselves.”

U.S.-based company Profile Solutions is the only authorized cannabis grower in the small Southern African country.

Eswatini is working toward changing provisions of a 1922 statute enacted by the British, who ruled the nation formerly known as Swaziland from 1903 until 1968.

Dr. Thys Louren is an occupational medical practitioner from South Africa who works for Occupational Health Eswatini. He argues that legalizing cannabis could have major benefits for health care, society and the economy, His position aligns with the Eswatini government’s on the issue.

“I stand here urging for the transformative change of Eswatini’s health care landscape toward a healthier and more sustainable Eswatini. It is not just a medical decision but a holistic solution for our patients, community and economy.”

E. Nathi Dlamini from Business Eswatini sees medical cannabis as an avenue Eswatini can use to capitalize on the global cannabis market to create jobs and spur economic growth — encouraged by the government’s support for the industry.

“Many countries are well ahead in this regard in terms of developing industries to support investment, create jobs which by the way, we desperately need. As Business Eswatini, we are very thankful that from the highest authority of the land now, we are beginning to be one-minded on this.”

The cannabis trade has given many people in a small economy with few job opportunities a substantial income for decades, and a few local merchants are not fearful that this could be undermined by the new bill.

Cannabis merchant Maqhawe Tsabedze says he has earned a living from the illegal trade for the last 20 years to put his children through school.

“The decriminalization of cannabis will help a lot and will perhaps stop police from raiding and confiscating our products, which we make a living from selling. Rain or sunshine, we make sure we put bread on the table so that our children do not go to bed on empty stomachs. Since there are no jobs, we make a living from selling cannabis on the streets.”

The bill needs to win three-fourths approval in the House of Assembly and Senate to become law. 

Cannabiz Africa understands that no date has yet been set for the new law to be enacted.


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