Rwanda officials on Monday approved guidelines for medical cannabis cultivation, processing, and export, the New Times reports. The rules do not decriminalize or legalize cannabis for any other purpose.
Minister of Health Dr. Daniel Ngamije explained that the decision “does not give room for those who abuse” cannabis.
“The law that punishes drug abuse is in place and it will continue to be applied as usual,” he said in the report.
The Rwanda Development Board reiterated in a statement that “medical cannabis produced in Rwanda will be solely for export markets,” adding that it plans to introduce a special export tax for cannabis products.
Aloysie Manishimwe, a Rwandan researcher in medicinal plants, told the New Times that while she supports the reforms, the government needs to have strong protections in place to ensure the crops are not diverted into the illegal marketplace.
“Already drug abuse, specifically cannabis is rampant among young people in Rwanda. The task will be upon the government to have strong law enforcement.” – Manishimwe to the New Times
According to a United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime report, more than 10,000 tons of cannabis is produced in Africa annually.
Cannabis industry operations are allowed in several countries on the continent, including Ghana, Lesotho, Malawi, Morocco, South Africa, Swaziland, and Zambia. Many of those programs include cultivation and export for medical purposes.
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