March 24, 2019

Zimbabwe approves first license for private cannabis company

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A Zimbabwe company says it received approval for its cannabis license, which will make it the first in the country to be permitted to commercially produce medical marijuana nearly a year after the country legalized cultivation for medicinal and scientific purposes.

Precision Cannabis Therapeutics Zimbabwe was approved for the license March 7, pending payment of a hefty $46,000 fee.

A copy of the letter from the Ministry of Health confirming the approval of Precision’s application for a license to produce medical cannabis was shared with Marijuana Business Daily.

“The government of Zimbabwe is open for business and welcomes investors in all sectors of the economy, including licensing for the production of medical cannabis,” said Nathan Emery, COO of Precision Cannabis Therapeutics Zimbabwe.In February, local media reported that the government was working on licensing 37 companies, but none had cleared the final hurdle.

Precision Cannabis Therapeutics Zimbabwe is located on a 110-hectacre farm (272 acres) about 45 minutes from Harare. The company said it possesses water rights to a large agriculture dam to service the area’s farmers.

Zimbabwe hit pause on its medical cannabis program last June, just one month after its enactment.

However, the country’s medical cannabis framework cleared the way for an export industry.

The law also allows for licensed producers in Zimbabwe to mail medical cannabis to “authorized” patients – the same as Canada’s model – but the regulations do not establish how patients could become authorized to receive such shipments.

Follow-up regulations were introduced in September, and they designated a port of entry or exit for shipments of medical marijuana.

The arrest last summer of the country’s former health minister, David Parirenyatwa, on corruption allegations also delayed the implementation of the medical marijuana rules.

The allegations are unrelated to the cannabis law.

Zimbabwe was the second country in Africa to enact detailed regulations for medical cannabis businesses.

After a company in Lesotho sent the first-ever shipment of medical cannabis from Africa to Canada one year ago, multinational companies have ponied up tens of millions of dollars to get a piece of Africa’s burgeoning MMJ market.

Precision Cannabis’ Emery said Zimbabwe has a comparative advantage over other countries in the region, including established “large, functioning, commercial farms with access to abundant water for agriculture purposes and a mild climate, year around, for the most cost-effective production of medical cannabis.”

Highlights of Zimbabwe’s previously enacted MMJ law:

  • Regulated products include dried marijuana, fresh cannabis, oil, plants, capitals and seeds.
  • Licensed producers would mail the medical cannabis to “authorized” patients.
  • Cultivation and processing standards will be higher than in Canada.
  • All advertising concerning marijuana is banned.
  • A cultivation license will cost $50,000, about 50 times higher than the country’s per capita income.
 
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