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New export product: medical cannabis

Rwanda talks with four European and American organizations about growing cannabis for export to meet the growing demand for cannabis for medicinal use, although smoking is still prohibited in the country. This decision could lead to Rwandan state revenues rising again as the country suffers from the effects of the corona crisis.

The Central African nation joins many countries that have legalized cannabis to some extent or are considering legalizing it as attitudes towards the drug are slowly changing and investment in its medical use increases.

“We have had discussions with four different companies and we will continue these consultations,” said Clare Akamanzi, CEO of the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), adding that the companies are from Europe and the United States. She said the government realized that the country could potentially earn $ 10 million per hectare, which is much higher than the income from exports of traditional products such as coffee and tea.

Like most countries, the revenues of the Rwandan government have also shrunk as measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic have led to a drop in exports, investments lagging behind and tourists no longer coming. In a statement, RDB said the government expected the sector would generate significant export earnings and employment in high-quality agriculture and agro-processing.

Consumption of cannabis and other narcotics is prohibited in Rwanda and punishable by imprisonment of up to two years; drug dealers are sentenced to 20 years to life. All cannabis produced is strictly for export, and the ban on its use remains despite the new policy allowing the plant’s production. “The use of cannabis is a crime and will continue to be an offense,” said Rwandan Chief Justice Faustin Ntezilyayo.

Sources: Reuters and Rwanda Development Board