On Monday, October 12, the cabinet meeting approved guidelines in the growing of cannabis in Rwanda.
Cannabis is a multi-billion dollar industry and it’s believed to be the world’s most valuable cash crop from the absolute value perspective.
One study, which analyzed data from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation as well as UN World Drug reports, estimated cannabis to be valued at $47.7 million per square kilometer. Rwanda could be a new entrant into an industry that is already lucrative.
“The cabinet approved regulatory guidelines on cultivating, processing and export of therapeutic crops,” minutes from the cabinet meeting held on Monday reads in part.
According to the Minister of Health Dr. Daniel Ngamije, the country will now allow the growing of cannabis, but it will be mainly for export.
“This will not give room for those who abuse it. The law that punishes drug abuse is in place and it will continue to be applied as usual,” he said.
Rwanda Development Board reinforced this by saying in a statement that they have already approved guidelines providing framework for investing in the production and processing of medical cannabis for export; RDB will introduce a special export levy to incentive cannabis value addition.
"Medical cannabis produced in Rwanda will be solely for export markets," reads the RDB statement.
Rwanda hopes to reap big from the economic opportunities of growing Cannabis for medical purposes, it says.
The government also sees the cannabis industry as a strategic sector that will generate jobs and create business for communities through cultivation, production and processing zones.
Rwanda Development Board highlighted that guidelines approved provide for “strict security measures designed to prevent illicit diversion or use of the product,” among other requirements.
According to the World Health Organization, cannabis is by far the most widely cultivated, trafficked and abused illicit drug. About 147 million people, 2.5 per cent of the world population, consume cannabis compared with 0.2 per cent consuming cocaine and 0.2 per cent consuming opiates.
Although it is widely abused, it has several medical applications and evidence shows that it can be used to make several drugs such as Sativex, which comes as a nasal or oral spray, and has been approved in many countries for treating spasticity.
Cannabis is also used to make Dronabinol, another drug used to treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy in people who have already taken other medications to treat this type of nausea and vomiting without good results.
Dronabinol is also used to treat loss of appetite and weight loss in people who have acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), according to existing scientific literature.
According to a study conducted by Grand View Research, the medical segment held the leading revenue share of 71.0 per cent in 2019, owing to the growing adoption of cannabis as a pharmaceutical product for treating severe medical conditions, such as cancer, arthritis, and Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer.
Moreover, increasing need for pain management therapies along with the growing disease burden of chronic pain among elders is expected to boost the product demand.
More than 10,000 tons of cannabis are produced on the continent each year, according to a UN survey, which advocates believe could be worth billions of dollars in a rapidly expanding global market for legal weed.
This year, Malawi became the latest African country to legalise the growing, selling and exporting of cannabis.
In Zambia, Lesotho, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Morocco, Swaziland, and Ghana, cannabis use is allowed for use in one way or another.
The global legal marijuana market size is expected to reach $73.6 billion by 2027, according to Grand View Research. It is anticipated to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 18.1 per cent during the forecast period.