Lilongwe, June 16: Members of Parliament on Thursday adopted a motion to legalise industrial hemp in Malawi with an emphasis on putting in place regulatory measures before the country can fully start to cultivate, process and export the crop.
Member of Parliament for Ntchisi North Hon. Boniface Kadzamira was the one who moved the motion under the private member’s business by calling the August house to re-consider the status of industrial hemp and urging Parliament to legalize the growing and usage of industrial hemp.
Kadzamira said industrial hemp must be appropriately recognized at both policy and legislation level as a cash crop for industrial purposes distinct from other cannabis varieties.
First to respond to the motion was Lilongwe City Centre MP Hon. David Bisnowaty who seconded the motion by highlighting the values derived from the crop and its associated products.
“This is a plant that is used in many industries in the world to manufacture many products such as fibre, ropes, paper, cooking oil and many more. It is also a very easy crop to grow as it doesn’t need much water and agricultural inputs,” Bisnowaty said.
Making his contribution to the general debate on the motion, MP for Blantyre West Hon. Peter Kumpalume said that one can no longer deny the enormous benefits of industrial hemp which are well documented in various research reports but proposed the need to put in place necessary control measures prior to opening up the industry.
Other members who contributed to this dbate were MP for Mulanje South West Dr. George Chaponda and MP for Mzimba North Hon. Agnes Nyalonje who called for the need to have a local name for industrial hemp distinct from the term “chamba” which is mostly associated with marijuana.
When asked for his reaction, Sangwani Msofi the Chairperson of KEMET Forum which has been advocating for the legalisation of industrial hemp in Malawi, commended the Members of Parliament for passing this motion and implored the Members of Parliament to move a step further to consider passing a Bill that will regulate the cultivation, processing, licensing and exporting of industrial hemp.
“Industrial hemp is one viable agricultural crop that has a potential to bail Malawi out of its economic woes. Though long overdue, the adoption of this motion is a step in the right direction, ” Msofi added.
Industrial hemp and marijuana are two different varieties of a plant called Cannabis Sativa. While marijuana that can be smoked usually contains between five and ten percent of THC, industrial hemp contains about one-tenth of that. Medical experts attest that in order to get a psychoactive effect with industrial hemp, one would then need to smoke a cigarette of the same length and size like a telephone pole at one sitting.