The Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency has issued 57 cannabis cultivation licenses. Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube estimates that, with international partners, local growers can produce $40 million to $46 million worth of cannabis a month. Many market commentators have criticized this as wildly optimistic.
“We have licensed 57 investors for medicinal cannabis production from Germany, Switzerland, Canada, and as well some local players,” ZIDA said. “Companies have been licensed for cultivation and processing of medicinal cannabis and they own 100% of their investment.”
Ncube believes medicinal cannabis production had “immense potential” to generate export receipts and tax revenues. Taxes of as high as 20% will be applied on bulk extracts, oils, and dried cannabis flowers. The Treasury forecasts that cannabis sales could reach $1.25 billion this year. Ncube believes cannabis has the potential to replace tobacco as the main driver of the country’s agricultural sector.
New Agriculture Minister, Anxious Maseku, has been tasked with kick-starting the country’s ambitious hemp program. In addition to facing challenges with land invasions, poor mechanization, irrigation facilities, and corruption allegations leveled against land officers he is also tasked with cleaning up the licensing regime.
“The Authority may issue the following types of permit: a general cultivator’s permit; a research and breeding permit and an industrial hemp (cannabis) merchant’s permit,” said Maseku.
To ensure quality in seed imports, ZIDA is working with the Ministry of Lands and the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe. Cannabis production has already launched at some of the licensed farms. Cannabis farming and associated trade is allowed in Zimbabwe for medicinal and research purposes only. Recreational use is illegal and punishable by up to 12 years in jail.