Malawi’s Minister of Agriculture, Lobin Lowe, wrote a formal letter to former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson to become the country’s official cannabis crop ambassador, according to the BBC. According to Travel Noire’s reporting, which relied on several other reputable sources including BBC Africa, Tyson has accepted the offer! Plans are now underway for a formal visit and ambassadorship.
In the letter, Lowe, who is part of Malawi’s Ministry of Agriculture, said he hopes Tyson’s appointment and role as a cannabis ambassador will help attract investment opportunities in the country’s cannabis industry. Lowe believes it will also help increase tourism to Malawi.
“Malawi may not go it alone as the industry is complex [and requires] collaboration. I would therefore like to appoint you, Mr. Mike Tyson, as Malawi’s Cannabis Branch ambassador,” Lowe wrote.
Tyson became involved in the cannabis industry after his retirement as an entrepreneur. He has also long advocated for the consumption of cannabis. His cannabis brand, Knockout 87, is sold at different dispensaries in the United States, such as Planet 13.
Aside from the cannabis brand, Tyson has investments in different sectors of the cannabis industry. He is a co-founder of Tyson Holistics, a brand offering CBD products. He also founded Tyson Ranch, which is a 40-acre ranch in California.
Malawi has an agriculture-based economy that boasts tobacco crops as one of the country’s biggest exports. The African country legalized industrial and medical marijuana in 2020 to raise more money as tobacco experienced a decline in sales. Recreational marijuana consumption is still banned in the country, so residents and tourists can get into legal trouble if caught with mylar bags full of cannabis.
According to Voice of America News, Malawian farmers complained about the high prices for medical marijuana license fees, which can cost up to $10,000.
Cannabis in Malawi is known as Chamba. One of the most popular strains, Malawi Gold, hails from the country.
Although Malawi’s agriculture minister believes Tyson can be influential in giving the county’s cannabis market a significant boost, the decision has been criticized by the Centre of Public Accountability (CPA).
“The CPA is failing to comprehend why Malawai would want to have a convicted rapist as its brand ambassador, more especially, at this time, when efforts to curb violence against women are part of the government agenda,” Kondwani Munthali, the CPA’s acting director said in a statement published by the BBC. For those who do not know, Tyson served time in prison after being convicted of rape in Indiana.
Despite the criticisms from Malawi’s CPA, Tyson is in talks with the United States Cannabis Association to facilitate a deal with Malawi.
Although Malawi has legalized medical cannabis, it has yet to be federally legalized in the United States. Recently, a bill that can legalize medical marijuana for veterans was submitted for a vote by U.S. senators.