Security fears delay ‘weed farming’, says government

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By Leopold Munhende

GOVERNMENT has delayed the operationalisation of the farming of hemp which is expected to overtake tobacco as the country’s biggest export because of security concerns, a Cabinet Minister said last week.

Local Government July Moyo said at a post-cabinet media briefing Tuesday that there are fears the legalisation could be abused if proper monitoring mechanisms are not put in place.

“Cannabis naturally has to take a long time to set up and in this currently the President has directed that all the structures must be well secured and the statutes that require us to be very strict are in place.

“It is necessary that we had to take this long because with cannabis if you let it grow wild a lot of us will be wild than what we are right now,” said Moyo.

“So with cannabis it had to take that long.”

Last year, government legalised the farming of cannabis for medicinal purposes with prospective farmers expected to obtain a licence from the Ministry of Health.

Zimbabwe becomes the second country to legalise the growing of cannabis in the region, after Lesotho.

A five year licence which costs US$50 000 is accompanied by more stringent demands that include details on how one is to do it, total amount and weight of weed to be produced in grams, the maximum number of plants to be grown and more licences if one is to transport the produce.

Last Tuesday, Moyo said Cabinet had approved the farming of a non-toxic strand of the cannabis plant, hemp on a massive scale with no restriction “more like tobacco farming”.

Hemp is usually harvested for extraction of its healthy oil and edible fruits.

Zimbabwe’s laws currently prohibit the growing and use of marijuana.