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Lesotho Should Review Its Cannabis Laws: ‘No Place for Small Business’

Lesotho Should Review Its Cannabis Laws: ‘No Place for Small Business’

Lesotho was the first African country to legalize medical cannabis for export purposes. However, recent research says Lesotho’s cannabis laws have proved very challenging, have not been applied objectively and have been at the expense of small, medium and micro-enterprises.

Cannabiz Africa

23 May 2024 at 12:00:00

This study was published in the Journal of Cannabis Research on 9 May 2024.


READ THE FULL STUDY HERE.


Lesotho has not only lost its first mover advantage in the African cannabis market. It has now emerged that the implementation of the lawhas proved very challenging, with long timeframes for finalising regulatory frameworks and not being applied objectively”.


These are the results of a study entitled 'Envisaging challenges for the emerging medicinal cannabis sector in Lesotho' conducted by Regina M. Thetsane. Published in the Journal of Cannabis Research on 16 May 2024, Thetsane also found that “the industry does not provide opportunities for Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) to venture into the cannabis business.”


Her conclusion is that “the cannabis sector appears to be faced with many challenges emanating from the implementation and enforcement of cannabis laws. The Lesotho Government should review its cannabis laws and regulations with a view to benefiting SMMEs and legalising Cannabis production so as to serve both the domestic and international markets”.


Currently, according to Thetsane, there is only one cannabis company in Lesotho exporting medical product and that competition has become intense.


“For instance, on the African continent, Lesotho, Uganda, Malawi, Rwanda, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Morocco and South Africa have already legalised the medicinal cannabis. Such a series of legal frameworks in the cannabis industry by the African countries may lead to a stiff competition among the cannabis companies and across the African countries. 


"A high competition may also threaten and push SMMEs Cannabis out of the emerging legal cannabis industry”.


Her research also found that the start-up costs involved in the medical cannabis industry were prohibitive.


“In many African countries, the expenses incurred include acquiring a licence fee for Cannabis production. The case in point is Lesotho where a licence fee for Cannabis production is approximately $350 000. In South Africa and Malawi, the production licence fee is approximately $1,465 and $10,000 respectively. In addition to the licence fee, setting up a medicinal Cannabis facility in South Africa, which cannot be afforded by many SMME Cannabis growers is estimated at $182,000 to $304 000.”


She wrote: “Inconsistencies in implementing and complying with the cannabis laws and regulations by the Government Ministry of Health employees have also been noted. Issuing people with medicinal cannabis licences has been done without any follow up on their use on the ground.


“At the time of study, Lesotho had thirty-three cannabis companies, eight (8) of which were legally registered, and only one (1) had been granted Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certification. This could indicate that cannabis companies in Lesotho do not fully comply with the laws and regulations of the sector, resulting in only one cannabis company being able to export Cannabis to EU markets.


She also urged the country to introduce cannabis skills development programmes to meet the needs of the new, yet struggling industry.

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