Zimbabwe has become the second African country to legalize marijuana for medical and scientific purposes.
Dr. David Parirenyatwa, the country's health minister, said in a government notice that individuals and businesses would be able to apply for licenses. These licenses will allow cultivation of cannabis for medical or scientific purposes.
The five-year licenses will also allow producers to hold, transport and sell fresh cannabis, cannabis oil and dried products.
Cannabis is known as mbanje or dagga in southern Africa. The production and possession of marijuana was punishable by 12 years in prison. Recreational use will remain illegal.
Applicants for licenses must submit detailed plans of their production site and performance, according to the government's notice published in the Harare Herald on Saturday.
Those applying for licenses must be citizens or residents of Zimbabwe or have a waiver granted by the Minister.
Those convicted of drug offenses will not be allowed to apply.
The second country to legalize after Lesotho
The tiny state of Lesotho issued Africa's first license for the production of medical marijuana last year, with a South African court ruled last year that private use of marijuana was legal. However, the government appealed the decision to the Constitutional Court.
The Zimbabwean government is seeking new sources of revenue for its agricultural economy.
Last year, Obert Mpofu, the then investment minister, said that a Canadian company had applied to the government for a license to produce cannabis. Thus planned special economic zones are designed to attract foreign investors.
Zimbabwe is already one of the largest tobacco producers in southern Africa. The majority of its production is therefore exported to China.
Africa comes second after the Americas in terms of production and consumption of marijuana. Indeed, this is what the United Nations World Drug Report 2017 indicates.