SADC Urged To Produce Cannabis To Combat Tobacco Ban

In the last few years, global anti-tobacco lobbyists have tried to take the golden leaf away from the earth.

The unpopular move, particularly in South African countries, is ranging from health to environmental issues.

According to Tobacco Reporter and Economist Intelligence Unit, Zimbabwe earned 782 million USD in tobacco by 2020, down from 904 million USD in 2019.

Swapping Tobacco for Cannabis

The impending ban on tobacco must be suppressed by the rising global appetite for medicinal cannabis.

This is considered a ray of hope for countries of the region, taking into account the favorable climate conditions for cannabis production in South Africa.

The profit from this crop would be likely increase due to increased demand as more conservative countries begin lifting the ban on drug trafficking and consumption.

Marijuana is a more environmentally friendly crop than tobacco which needs firewood or coal for the curing process.

In addition to the strong impact tobacco has on forests, it also requires many environmentally harmful chemicals to produce.

The cannabis region, other than monetary value, would help the South African region to reduce environmental degradation.

To ensure the export of raw or semi-raw materials, the region must organize itself quickly from the beginning and establish profit facilities to allow the export of finished, higher profitable drug products and move away from what the tobacco industry has obtained over the years.

Furthermore, policies and laws need to be developed in the region, enabling farmers or investors from their respective countries to participate in crop production before foreigners.Policies should also protect themselves against “slave-like” contract farming arrangements which frequently leave farmers deprived and merchants affluent.

Cannabis is needed primarily for medicinal purposes by most importing countries and few use it for recreation.

Cannabis Growth in Africa

In 2017, Lesotho became the first country in Africa to legalize cannabis.

Since then, cannabis reform has taken place in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Malawi, ESWATINI, Zambia, Uganda, Rwanda, and Ghana.

The African continent is usually ideal for the outdoor cultivation of cannabis—starting with the its position on the globe and its sunshine.

In Zimbabwe, the government expects cannabis export earnings to exceed tobacco three times in the immediate future.

Tobacco was Zimbabwe’s most valuable export crop until the introduction of cannabis.

The Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (ZIDA) issued 44 licenses between September and November 2020. As a result, total earnings are expected to reach $1.25 billion in 2021 for companies in that sector.

The global cannabis medicine industry is projected to increase to 68 billion dollars by 2027, according to ZIDA, and Southern Africa is pressing for market share.

The 2019 report of Prohibition Partners, a research and advisory firm specializing in the legal cannabis industry, also estimated that up to $7.1 billion could be spent in the African cannabis industry by 2023.

Because the climate and soil of Southern Africa are conducive to several cash crops, the impending ban on tobacco should not disturb the region because there are many alternatives.

Cannabis growth could be a good idea because the move could also counter the perceived ban on tobacco in particular in Zimbabwe and Africa in general.

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