Namibia investigates commercial cannabis cultivation

• Business Reporter

Namibia is investigating the possibility of issuing licences for the commercial cultivation of cannabis for medicinal use, The Brief can reveal.

The investigations are at an advanced stage, with cabinet having referred the proposal to the Ministry of Health to investigate whether there is a demand for cannabis for medicinal use and the health risks associated with its use.

Agriculture Minister Calle Schlettwein confirmed the development, but was quick to point out that no license had been issued by his ministry, as it was still awaiting findings from an investigation being carried out by the Ministry of Health.

“The Ministry has an ongoing evaluation about how much needs to be planted and how much is on the international market. We are looking into the pros and cons of the opportunity such as how the behavior is at the moment and how its potential can be influenced over time and this can only be determined once the report is finalized. So far, the ministry has not issued any licenses,” the minister said.

Schlettwein said the Ministry has observed the viability of industrial hemp farming, but from a business standpoint, he said it may not be as bright as it appears.

“From a business perspective, from the figures I have seen, it may be a viable business opportunity, but we have looked into other cases but it may be that the opportunity is not always as rosy as it is depicted,” he said.

The global medical cannabis market reached a value of US$26.1 billion in 2021, according to numerous sources.

Ministry of Health Executive Director, Ben Nangombe, said there were on-going consultations with the Attorney General, to harmonize two conflicting clauses to operationalize the cultivation of cannabis in Namibia.

“We are having consultations with the Attorney General on legislations that are in conflict, so we need to harmonize the two arts, one act relates to how it is illegal to possess cannabis, and the other states that it can be cultivated or possessed for research for medicinal purposes, so in order to harmonize that, the ministry approached the attorney general’s office to provide his opinion and legal advice on these two clauses,” he said.

This comes as 12 African countries, including South Africa, Zambia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Lesotho, Malawi, Morocco, Rwanda, Zimbabwe and the Kingdom of eSwatini have started industrial hemp cultivation.

Hemp cultivation and production according to South Africa government estimates, has the potential to create 25 000 jobs.

Other estimates place the sector’s value at around R30 billion and 35 000 jobs over the next 3 to 5 years.

Cannabis is believed to have numerous medicinal benefits and can be used in the treatment and pain management of cancer, glaucoma, HIV-Aids, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, cerebral palsy, headaches, multiple sclerosis, anorexia, schizophrenia, and amongst others.

*The Brief