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OPINION: Gov’t Should Fast-track Legalization Of Marijuana For Medical Purposes

By Ben Sebuguzi

Currently, one of the trending news stories is the issuance of investment license to Together Pharma, an Israel firm to grow marijuana by Uganda Investment Authority (UIA), a government agency mandated to issue licenses to investors.

To many of us who are well wishers of our country, it’s a bigger step forwards the transformation of the Agricultural sector.

According to our National Development Plan of 30 years,some of the priorities are stipulated as seen below:

  1. enhancing agricultural production and productivity,

2. improving access to sustainable agricultural markets

3. creating an enabling environment for investment in agricultural.

UIA is doing exactly that, and becoming an enabler to achieving NDP objectives of transforming the Ugandan society from peasantry to modern prosperous country as a result of issuing an investment license to the marijuana investors.

Given the fact that UIA has licensed an agricultural company to grow opium, this also means that the investors are going to develop one of the most important sector of the economy which not only contributes 20% of GDP but also employs 73% of the population. Most of our soils are loam fertile soils which gives the opportunity to this robust plant to thrive and we get foreign exchange.

A survey by Quinnipiac University in April 2018 found overwhelming support in the US for medical cannabis legalization with 93% approval.30 countries have already legalized and they include among others Argentina, Germany, Netherlands Norway to mention but a few.

This means that there is a changing perception globally towards cannabis or opium apparently every where you look.With the US Gallups October 2017 the survey found that 64% of respondents want to see weed legalized nationally.

It should be noted that marijuana is medicine as well a raw material for plastics, paper, food, fiber and fuel.

This is therefore a wake up call to our law makers to pass good laws that improve the livelihood of Ugandans like legalizing the growing of marijuana (weed) To well selected investors in order to create jobs but also attract industries associated with marijuana. This will also improve our foreign exchange earnings.

Ben Ssebuguzi is the Secretary General, Uganda Poor Youth Movement.

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