Zimbabwe’s Treasury says 44 licenses have been issued for cannabis cultivation since the government issued new regulations in September 2020.
Treasury spokesman Clive Mphambela told Reuters that “30 producers were ready and some were doing test production,” but declined to comment on stocks of cannabis available for export.
Export taxes on cannabis coming next year
Mphambela made the comments after the 26 November 2020 budget presentation by Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube, who said cannabis production for medicinal purposes had “immense potential” to generate export receipts and tax revenues. A so-called cannabis levy will be introduced next year, in line with export values, Ncube said. Taxes of as much as 20% will be applied on oils, bulk extracts and dried cannabis flowers.
He said the Zimbabwe Treasury’s estimation that local grow operations – with international partners – can produce US$40 million to US $46 million worth of cannabis a month. This has been criticized as wildly optimistic by market commentators.
Ncube says cannabis has the potential to replace tobacco as the main driver of the country’s agricultural sector. Zimbabwe’s farms are supposed to be a key backbone of the country’s economy has not managed to recover over 20 years after the chaotic land reform exercise which saw the government expropriating land from white 4 000 commercial farmers.
A man called Anxious will kickstart Zim’s hemp economy
Land invasions, disputes, poor mechanisation, irrigation facilities, and corruption allegations levelled against land officers are some of the challenges facing new Agriculture Minister, Anxious Maseku.
He has been tasked with kick-starting the country’s ambitious hemp programme. One of his first tasks in assuming office after the Covid-19 related death of his predecessor, was to clean up the licensing regime.
Zimbabwe’s new agriculture minister Anxious Masuka: in charge of licensing
Under Statutory Instrument 218 of 2020, Masuka announced that last month that the Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) could proceed to issue special licences.
“The Authority may issue the following types of permit: a general cultivator’s permit; a research and breeding permit and an industrial hemp (cannabis) merchant’s permit,” the he said.
The general cultivator’s permit authorises the permit holder to undertake, in accordance with the permit and these regulations, the cultivation of industrial hemp; processing hemp for marketing purposes; selling of hemp produce.
A permit holder is authorised to undertake the activities specified in a general permit only in respect of approved cultivars or, if the permit is limited to particular approved cultivars, the approved cultivars specified in the permit.
A research and breeding permit authorises the permit holder to undertake the procurement by a person within Zimbabwe of hemp of specified cultivars and varieties that are not approved cultivars.
The cultivation, for research purposes only, of new cultivars and varieties of hemp that are not approved cultivars among other privileges.
An industrial hemp merchant’s permit shall entitle the holder to supply industrial cannabis within Zimbabwe of industrial hemp and the procurement within Zimbabwe of industrial hemp among other privileges.
Local empowerment dropped in bid to attract investors
Zimbabwe legalised the production of cannabis (mbanje or dagga) for medicinal or scientific purposes in April 2018 through a notice published under Statutory Instrument 62 of 2018 (Dangerous Drugs – Production of Cannabis for Medicinal and Scientific Use Regulations).
Legal for everybody else to use, but not Zimbabweans
This year, through a cabinet decision and high-level meeting, a policy change enabling investors to hold 100% ownership of medicinal cannabis licences was made in order to improve the competitiveness of the sector both regionally and globally.
Cannabis farming and associated trade is allowed in Zimbabwe only for medicinal and research purposes only. Recreational use is illegal and punishable by up to 12 years in jail.
Eco Equity was one of the first companies to be licensed in Zimbabwe