While the US government continues to stall on passing common-sense cannabis legislation, the African nation of Malawi just legalized the plant for medical and industrial purposes.
Last Thursday, the Malawi legislature approved a federal bill that allows cannabis cultivation, processing, and sales so long as it’s only done for making medical or industrial products. Marijuana cultivation, sales, and manufacturing for recreational or adult-use purposes remain banned.
“We are very happy that finally we’re taking the right steps to move the country’s economy forwards,” Chauncy Jere, a spokesperson for the Hemp Association of Malawi and director of a Malawi-based hemp company, told Reuters. “There’s no denying that cannabis would be a lucrative industry, and its demand is huge.”
Malawi’s most profitable industry is tobacco, an addictive, cancer-causing drug responsible for killing at least 6 million people worldwide each year. Cannabis, on the other hand, possesses a minimal potential for addiction, and it could combat cancer if consumed in non-smokeable or pharmaceutically-prepared forms.
Africa has been on a roll over the past couple of years when it comes to reforming cannabis laws. Marijuana use has a long tradition across the continent, and anthropologists believe that some of the first people to cultivate weed for recreational use were hunters among African pygmy tribes. However, under colonial rule and later UN treaties, African countries outlawed the plant and imposed harsh penalties for its use, trade, and cultivation.
Fortunately, Malawi now joins several other African nations that have entered the weed game. Last year, South Africa decriminalized adult-use cannabis, and the country may soon permit commercial cultivation, as well. In 2017, Lesotho became the first African nation to license legal pot grows. In 2018, Zimbabwe followed Lesotho’s lead.
In the US, the youngest black marijuana dispensary owner is Nigerian-born Seun Adedeji, 25, whose family immigrated to America 22 years ago. Which is fitting, considering Nigerians smoke more weed and spend more money on cannabis than any other people on Earth, according to one survey.