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Uganda In Final Stages Of Legalizing Marijuana Growing

The Government of Uganda is in final stages of legalizing marijuana growing for mainly medical purposes.

It is understood that Cabinet has set up a subcommittee to inquiry into a proposal of legalizing cannabis growing in the East African country.

According to State Minister of Health for General Duties, Sarah Opendi, the subcommittee is chaired by Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda and is currently processing the proposal.

“Cabinet has discussed the matter extensively and a cabinet subcommittee chaired Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda is in place to critically look at issues of enforcement and regulations. We are hopeful that early next year we should be able to receive a report from this cabinet subcommittee and thereafter we should be able to make a decision,” Opendi told media.

Whereas the Ministry of Health says 14 companies have applied to acquire license to grow medical cannabis for export, reports indicate that the number of people and private companies seeking to grow and export marijuana for medical purposes has increased from 20 in April to 50 in July 2019.

The government is also under pressure from the various marijuana dealers to explain why they allowed Industrial Hemp (U) Ltd, a private company working with another Israeli-based cannabis firm to grow marijuana in Kasese and “frustrated” others through “delaying tactics”. The company was given the license in 2016.

A few months ago, Together Pharma Limited was also controversially issued a license to grow the medicinal crop.

 Opendi says Industrial Hemp is growing marihuana in Kasese but it is controlled because it is grown in green houses (in-doors) to avoid people abusing the plant.

Among the ministries that will be in charge of issuing licenses to marijuana growing companies include; Ministry of Health, Agriculture, Justice, Internal Affairs, National Drug Authority (NDA) and Uganda Investment Authority (UIA).

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.”

According to a recent report by the New Frontier Data, a UK-based authority in data analytics and business intelligence on the global cannabis industry, 2.6 Million Ugandans use marijuana and Uganda is 8th position among the top 10 countries in Africa.

Among the companies competing to grow marijuana is Premier Hemp owned by  property mogul Sudhir Ruparelia.

What is medical marijuana?

The term medical marijuana refers to using the whole, unprocessed marijuana plant or its basic extracts to treat symptoms of illness and other conditions.

According to World Health Organisation, several studies have demonstrated the therapeutic effects of cannabinoids for nausea and vomiting in the advanced stages of illnesses such as cancer and Aids.

For instance, 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, anticonvulsant and anti-spasmodic.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not recognised or approved the marijuana plant as medicine even though scientific study of the chemicals in marijuana, called cannabinoids, has led to two FDA-approved medications that contain cannabinoid chemicals in pill form.

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