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Zim Opens Up Local Cannabis Market; Classifies CBD as a Traditional Medicine

Zim Opens Up Local Cannabis Market; Classifies CBD as a Traditional Medicine

Major changes are underway as Zimbabwe's Medicines Control Authority is now accepting applications to place hemp-based CBD cannabis in the market. Consumption of high-THC – “recreational” cannabis remains illegal.

Cannabiz Africa and Hemp Today

5 August 2022 at 10:00:00

In a significant development, Zimbabwe has embraced low-THC cannabis and will now allow licensed producers to supply the domestic market. To date cannabis producers have only been allowed to export their crop.

The Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) has sent a circular (dated 18 June 2022) to licensed cannabis and hemp producers, manufacturers, importers and exporters, and pharmacists, saying it is now accepting applications for approval to place hemp-based CBD products on the market

Zimbabwe is now classifying CBD cannabis as a traditional herbal medicine. Only hemp and medical marijuana operators can open legal cannabis businesses under the country’s cannabis laws as general adult-use consumption remains illegal.

MCAZ’s acting Director-General R.T. Rukwata said in the circular that applicants must “submit dossiers that include product samples and certificates of analysis from an accredited laboratory, and pass MCAZ inspections of their sites to ensure compliance with Good Manufacturing Practices”.

The rest of this article is reproduced from Hemp Today , first published on 3 August 2022.

While the MCAZ has a clearly defined registration process for traditional medicines, also known as herbal “complementary medicines,” most hemp products available have been imported. The agency has found little success in registering local products, according to a report issued last year by Purdue University’s Biotechnology Innovation and Regulatory Science Center (BIRS) (USA).

Zimbabwean producers contribute just 2% to the total domestic supply of such herbal products, the report noted.

The BIRS paper warned that unregistered traditional medicines pose a significant public health threat in Zimbabwe due to inadequate regulations, and recommended greater cooperation among regulatory bodies to ensure consistent quality. Studies on local herbs are needed to help guide producers in preparing dossiers for product registration, and frame quality standards, BIRS also said.

After setting up rules to guide the hemp industry were released in late 2020, the Agriculture Marketing Authority began issuing farming and production licenses and the government started providing 99-year leases on state-owned farms last year.

Cultivation, processing, transportation and other aspects of the hemp production chain are heavily regulated. Only government-sanctioned hemp cultivars may be grown although special permission may be granted for non-approved cultivars under research licensing.

Current strategy

The Zimbabwean government initially planned to manage hemp under state ownership, but later revised its strategy to encourage investment in the cannabis sectors. A loosening of regulations last year drew investors from Germany, Switzerland and Canada which received cultivation and processing licenses.

The Ministry of Lands and the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe cooperate with the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency in the administration of the cannabis business, and share authority for regulatory requirements. The government has established the Zimbabwe Industrial Hemp Trust (ZIHT), a development initiative set up to assist farmers in starting up hemp operations, and to look for new export markets for their hemp outputs.

The Zimbabwean government sees industrial hemp as a replacement for the country’s falling prospects in tobacco, which makes up roughly 20% of Zimbabwe’s exports. Contraction in the tobacco industry has contributed to stagnation which has beset the country’s economy for nearly two decades despite the African nation’s vast wealth of natural resources.



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