Malawi is ready to start commercial production and processing of cannabis for medicinal and industrial use, reports Reuters, citing the country’s newly created Cannabis Regulatory Authority.
In February, Malawi’s parliament passed a bill that makes it legal to cultivate and process cannabis for medicines and hemp fiber used in industry but stops short of decriminalizing recreational use.
The board chair of Malawi’s regulator, Boniface Kadzamira, said his board had received more than 100 applications for licensing which were under review.
The license fees will range from $100 to $10,000 a year for the cultivation, selling, storage, distribution of industrial and medicinal hemp.
Kadzamira believes hemp has the potential to surpass earnings from tobacco, currently the country’s main export crop.
Malawi’s earnings from tobacco have fallen dramatically over the years in part due to declining demand and poor weather.
During the 2020 season, Malawi’s tobacco output fell by 31.3 percent, resulting in a 26.4 percent decline in the country’s overall tobacco revenues.
Due to the disappointing earnings, the country’s tobacco auctioneer, Auction Holdings, has failed to pay salaries for the last two months.