The parliament in Malawi has drafted a bill that will make it legal to grow marijuana and hemp both medicinally and industrially. The bill comes at a time when the country’s export earnings have taken a huge hit as tobacco sales decline year by year.
Tobacco sales have been bringing in at least 60 percent of the country’s foreign exchange earnings, but the sustained anti-smoking efforts spearheaded by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other groups have triggered a downward trend in the number of people who smoke. Malawi is feeling the effects of those efforts.
Moreover, the estimated value of the largest tobacco companies in the world, such as Altria (makers of Marlboro) and British American Tobacco (BAT) has declined by at least 20 percent.
In the U.S. alone, there has been a 67 percent reduction in the number of smokers from 1965. Today, approximately 14 percent of the U.S. population smokes tobacco cigarettes, and this number continues to reduce year by year.
The cannabis and hemp industry has therefore been lobbying the Malawi government to pass enabling legislation so that the country can diversify its sources of foreign currency earnings. Their campaigns are bolstered by the global trends which show that cannabis and industrial hemp are on the rise as huge commercial crops.
For example, an acre of land on which 2,500 hemp plants are grown fetches approximately $60,000 annually in the U.S., while a similar number of tobacco plants on an acre of land brings a paltry $5,000 annually to Malawi. Making the switch to hemp and cannabis would therefore be a no-brainer when these statistics are considered.
Additionally, the cost of growing hemp and cannabis is likely to be much lower in Malawi given that the country has favorable climate that can allow outdoor grows throughout the year. This is unlike the climate of Canada and the U.S. where indoor facilities have to be used to have supplies of cannabis and hemp all year round.
If the bill is passed, then Malawi will join the ranks of South Africa, Lesotho and Zimbabwe where cannabis prohibition has ended. The question on everyone’s mind is, when will the U.S. federal government finally see the errors of continuing to prohibit marijuana while the rest of the world is legalizing marijuana and allowing researchers and entrepreneurs to understand and commercialize the plant? The Green Organic Dutchman (TSX: TGOD) (OTCQX: TGODF), The Flowr Corporation (TSX.V: FLWR) and other cannabis industry players are also asking themselves that question.
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