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Rwanda legalizes cannabis for export and opens the door to CBD

Rwanda has legalized cannabis production for export and has allowed CBD products to be sold locally.  However, it has ruled out decriminalizing it for recreational purposes and said stiff penalties for contravention would remain in place.

The Rwandan cabinet ratified the law on 12 October 2020 with no objection.  This makes Rwanda the eight country in Africa to legalize cannabis exports, following Lesotho, South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Ghana.

Rwandan Health Minister Dr Daniel Ngamiji  told the New Times that “the objective of this bill is to contribute to the protection of the population while ensuring that drugs and psychotropic substances are exclusively available for scientific and medical purposes”.

He said the bill complied with United Nations conventions on drugs and responds to the organizations call for every country to have laws against illegal drugs and to control dangerous medications.  A government spokesman said medicinal marijuana products would be allowed to be sold locally to “help in relieving the pain and problems related to psychic troubles. The medicine will thus be available and correctly utilized”.

The Rwanda Development Board is co-ordinating the licensing of potential exporters and said several tendered bids have been accepted.  The Board’s CEO Clare Akamanzi said guidelines were being put in place to “see how Rwanda contribute to medicinal reseach in the world. The US, Canada and the EU are big markets that we are seeing buying products”.

She said security was a big concern and that exporters would have to have sophisticated  security measures to prevent their crops from being stolen.  She said the government would not allow cannabis consumption for any reason other than medical purposes.

The opposition Green Party’s leader, Frank Habineza, said he fully supported the government’s medical marijuana initiative but called for complete legalization in the country.


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