Zambia has legalized the production and export of cannabis for economic and medicinal purposes, declared The government's chief spokesperson on Monday, becoming the last country to change its stance on drugs to boost its finances.
Authorization to export cannabis was granted at a special cabinet meeting on December 4, spokeswoman Dora Siliya said in a statement. It was unclear from this statement whether the use of cannabis for medical purposes in Zambia had been legalized.
The southern African country joins a host of countries that have legalized or are considering legalizing cannabis to some extent, so that attitudes slowly change and investments in its medical benefits increase.
Zambia is driven by a large budget deficit and an increasing debt burden. The growth in external debt, which fell from $ 8,74 billion a year earlier to $ 10,5 billion at the end of 2018, raises fears of a debt crisis for the country.
Zambia cut its 2019 growth forecast in September because inclement weather affected agricultural production and power generation, while the International Monetary Fund said growth is expected to remain weak over the medium term.
Zambian opposition chairman Peter Sinkamba, who has advocated the export of cannabis since 2013, said the move could bring Zambia up to $ 36 billion a year.
"Depending on how it is done, it could just change the face of the Zambian economy," Sinkamba told Reuters. “It could be a blessing or a curse, like diamonds and gold, depending on the direction of the policy. "
Siliya said the government had asked the health ministry to coordinate the issuance of the necessary licenses while a technical committee made up of ministers from various ministries would develop guidelines.