Uhuru to open Zimbabwe Trade Fair where marijuana will be discussed

Medicinal use of Marijuana is legal in Zimbabwe

Inmates prepare a banner ahead of the sowing of the first industrial hemp crop in Zimbabwe at the Harare Central Prison in the capital, October 11 2019 - The Zimbabwe Industrial Hemp Trust (ZIHT) is the first organization to be issued with a cannabis license in the southern African country.  (Photo by JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP via Getty Images)

Zimbabwean and International companies involved in the marijuana industry have been encouraged to take part in the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) where President Uhuru Kenyatta will attend as the guest of honour.

This year’s edition of ZITF is scheduled to run from April 26-30 under the theme, “Rethink, Reimagine, Reinvent Value Chains for Economic Development.” The trade show resumed last year after being suspended in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Zimbabwe’s cannabis laws are strict, with long prison sentences of up to ten years for even limited private use. However, in 2018, the country took progressive steps by legalising the plant’s cultivation for medicinal purposes.

However, recently Zimbabwe’s tobacco industry hinted that they are looking to cannabis as a major revenue source with anti-tobacco sentiment expected to dampen demand for one of the countries biggest exports.

Anticipated demand for cannabis is projected to continue to grow while tobacco output globally may decline 15% by 2030, according to Meanwell Gudu, the CEO of Zimbabwe’s Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board.

Tobacco earned the country $819m in revenue in 2021. Farmers will be encouraged to plant cannabis so that a quarter of their income comes from the plant by 2025, Gudu told Bloomberg News.

The country exported 30 tonnes of industrial hemp to Switzerland in 2022, its first foray into the European market, said Zorodzai Maroveke, the founder of the Zimbabwe Industrial Hemp Trust.

The group is partnering with the tobacco board to facilitate the “smooth transition” to cannabis for commercial purposes. Another 20 tonnes of industrial hemp are set to be exported to the European nation, she said.

In Kenya, cannabis cultivation and consumption were banned during the British Colonial East African Protectorate under the Opium Ordinance, the law which came into full force on January 1, 1914, criminalizing its use and cultivation.

However, In Kenya, in 2018, Kibra MP, the late Ken Okoth introduced the Marijuana Control Bill, in the National Assembly to decriminalize the use of weed.

The proposed bill suggested that legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational use was meant for those who wish to smoke, eat or drink cannabis and that they needed to get a license for it.

Recently, Professor George Wajackoyah, one of Kenya's respected law scholars, promised to legalize marijuana if elected president.


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