US Corporation cashes in as Lesotho becomes the first African country to legalise cannabis cultivation

*Women from Lesotho

As reported on Feb. 6th, 2018… Lesotho has become the first African country to permit the legal cultivation of cannabis – but the production of the drug has been restricted to two foreign-owned companies, while rural farmers and the wider population continue to be prohibited from harvesting their own. 

Cannabis – known as matekoane in Sotho, the main language of Lesotho – remains illegal to harvest, sell, and possess across the country, under Lesotho’s Drugs of Abuse Act 2008. Under section 9 of this Act, being convicted of harvesting a cannabis plant mandates a person to face either a minimum of five years in prison, or a fine of at least M20,000 (£1,192/$1,664). Section 81 of the Act allows any police officer to “without warrant … enter any place on or in which [cannabis is] growing” to destroy said plants. The deprivation of Lesotho’s people from benefiting from a regulated production of this cash crop is particularly poignant given the country’s high poverty rate (57 per cent of people live below the poverty line), as well as cannabis’ historical significance in the country. Use of cannabis in Lesotho dates back as far as the 16th Century, and may have had a role in the settlement of the country. Ancestors of the Basotho people – the main ethnic group in Lesotho – may have purchased the territory in exchange for cannabis in around 1550, according to research in a UNESCO report.

*On February 6 2018, Corix Bioscience Inc. informed its shareholders that it had had a “tremendous quarter”, including acquiring PDC, which has allowed them to attain “the first license issued by the Government of Lesotho that enables them to import and the [sic] export cannabis and cannabis resin in various forms”. On its website, Corix Bioscience describes itself as “a leading provider of CBD [cannabidiol] used for a wide variety of medicinal purposes”, and it boasts of “manufacturing the best and safest CBD oils in the world”. Alongside the manufacture of CBD, the license for cannabis production that Corix Bioscience Inc. has acquired through its acquisition of PDC allows them to undertake a range of cannabis-related activities that are prohibited in most of the world. According to the terms of the license (available for download here), license-holders are permitted to “cultivate flowerings of the plant […] for the purpose of smoking, vaporizing, extraction, edible, […] and medicine production” across up to 20,000 square metres of land. The license-holder is permitted to “export, import and transit [cannabis] within, into and outside of Lesotho for medical use and/or scientific use and any other lawful use”. This thereby allows Corix Bioscience Inc. to transport Lesotho-produced cannabis or cannabis-based substances to any jurisdiction in the world that allows the drug for recreational or medical purposes, as long as that jurisdiction permits it. The company claims this to be around 30 countries.

Original Article (Talking Drugs):
US Corporation cashes in as Lesotho becomes the first African country to legalise cannabis cultivation
Artwork Fair Use: Martijn.Munneke


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