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Africa: Medical Cannabis Market In Continent To Grow Worth $7.1 Billion By 2023

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Cannabis is the world’s most cultivated drug and Africa’s hunger to exploit the cannabis market is rising because of the sector’s accelerated revenue growth. Discussions around the cannabis being a cure for coronavirus, though not backed by science, have also led to many promoting the plant in order to combat the virus. South Africa even got the trial of marijuana as part of six herbs that could potentially cure Covid 19 in June 2020.

Sibusiso Xaba, Co-founder and CEO of the Africa Cannabis Advisory Group projects that the market in South Africa will be the largest by revenue in the years to come. He reports that Africa exported over 15 tonnes of legal cannabis to the rest of the world in 2021. This was almost a tenfold increase from 2020.

A Canadian-based corporation, Intadose Pharma, reportedly completed a record shipment of medicinal cannabis weighing 2.125 tonnes from South Africa to North Macedonia on December 25, 2021.

Phobition Partners, a research and consultation firm that deals in the legal cannabis industry predicts that Africa’s medicinal cannabis market will be worth US$7.1 billion by 2023. A 2020 report by the research firm estimates that the marijuana market will be based majorly in the following five countries. Market size would generate as follows if the required legislations take effect: Nigeria (US$3.7 billion), South Africa (US$1.7 billion), Morocco (US$900 million), Lesotho (US$90 million), and Zimbabwe (US$80 million).

In South Africa, the government has allowed commercially restricted hemp farming, a botanical class of cannabis that contains less THC (the psychoactive compound that causes the “high” effect). Goodleaf, one of South Africa’s pioneer brands of commercial cannabis merged with Highlands investments from Lesotho in a deal valued at about US $45.2 Million. Lesotho is the first country to legalize marijuana in Africa. Even Morocco ended up legalizing the product last year.

Nqobile Bundwini, a lecturer at the University of Cape Town, says that cannabis can help in the revival of South Africa’s ailing economy. He adds, “South Africa tends to lag behind and not use its rich resources optimally. And if we don’t, we will get left behind in a situation where we should be the pioneers and leading from the front.”

Cannabis Farming

Legal Cannabis Farming Challenges in Africa:

  • Morality Laws: In many African countries, the government arrest farmers who cultivate, sell or consume cannabis.
  • Against Religion: Consumption of marijuana is considered against religion in most African countries. The first lady of Uganda, Jane Museveni, along with some cabinet secretaries have opposed the legalizing of cannabis, terming it as “satanic”. They believe the product shall ruin the future of youth in Africa.
  • Stigmatization: Many people believe that the consumption of marijuana slows down the brain and its thinking capacity. The negative public perception surrounding marijuana also demotivates people from farming it.
  • Lack of Knowledge: Most African governments are unaware of this industry and its growing economy.
  • Lack of Investors: Investors are generally discouraged by the strict legal restrictions placed by most African countries.

As new governments across Africa are coming to realize the potential, they are slowly changing their approach towards embracing cannabis farming and investing millions of dollars in the sector. Reports show that the cannabis industry exported US $13 Billion worth of pot to Europe annually and employed over 1 million people despite the plant being illegal.

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