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Rugunda: Gov’t Considering Issuing Licenses To Marijuana Growing Companies

Uganda’s Prime Minister, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda (in featured photo) has revealed that Government plans to issue licenses to marijuana growing companies.

According to local reports, more than 50 firms (both foreign and local), have joined the race to grow and export Cannabis commonly known as Marijuana for medicinal purposes.

 This number has grown from 20 in April 2019.

However, government halted the process of issuing licenses to marijuana growers after approving only two companies.

Now government says that although they do not yet have a common position on marijuana, several government organs are considering it. 

The matter came out in parliament yesterday  during the Prime Ministers question time when Betty Bamukwasa, the Rukungiri Woman MP questioned under what framework Government was licencing growing of medicinal marijuana. 

 Rugunda, who was responding to the matter, told the House that Government will report to Parliament with a detailed response.

In June, an Israeli Firm, Together Pharma Limited reported its first Marijuana harvest from Uganda, despite a government announcement that the license had been halted. 

The company reportedly completed the first harvesting of Cannabis inflorescences at its farm in Uganda on June 18, 2019, and sowed another 10 dunams on the company’s farm in Uganda on the same day.  

Another company Hemp is growing medicinal marijuana in Kasese district. Recently media reports indicated that up to 90 companies had applied to Government to grow medicinal marijuana.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) several studies have demonstrated the therapeutic effects of cannabinoids for nausea and vomiting in the advanced stages of illnesses such as cancer and AIDS.

Dronabinol (tetrahydrocannabinol) has been available by prescription for more than a decade in the USA. Other therapeutic uses of cannabinoids are being demonstrated by controlled studies, including treatment of asthma and glaucoma, as an antidepressant, appetite stimulant, anti-convulsant and anti-spasmodic, among others.  

However, the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act 2015, specifies that persons involved in the manufacture, production, sale, or distribution of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances commit an offence and are liable, on conviction, to a fine or imprisonment of as much as five years or both.   

The law also prohibits the cultivation of any plant, including cannabis, from which narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances may be extracted, without permission from the Health Minister.

The National Drug Policy and Authority Act, 1993 provides that “No person shall, without the written consent of the Health Minister… cultivate any plant from, which a narcotic drug can be extracted.”    

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