Medical cannabis in Africa (2): Lesotho first

Last month, in order to take a position on the international medical cannabis market, Rwanda joined the cohort of ten African countries that have legalized the medical use of this plant.

In Africa, the legalization process began in September 2017, when a South African company obtained a permit from the Lesotho health ministry for the cultivation, processing, research and exploitation of cannabis for medical and scientific use.

Lesotho is a small country with under 2 million people, half of whom live below the poverty line. For many small rural producers, cannabis is a necessary complementary income that improves revenue from the ordinary plants grown in the country. Thus, the medicinal plant is widely cultivated deep in gardens before being sold in neighboring markets. Many smugglers take the risk of crossing the South African border to sell the plant due to its psychotropic effects.

In this context of great poverty, Lesotho has chosen to introduce the medical use of cannabis. For the authorities, the underlying socio-economic choice was to bet on the benefits of medicine rather than the risks of delinquency. In doing so, Lesotho was killing two birds with one stone. This small landlocked kingdom in South Africa, little industrialized, attracted a company specializing in manufacturing products and promoting exportable services, which we know are the conditions to get a country out of the trap of underdevelopment. It was a political coup and the land of the Sothos, this Bantu ethnic group from Central Africa, took center stage in Africa by first legalizing the cultivation of what is called green gold in the region.

Lesotho, the pioneer country was making a double bet aimed at distinguishing itself from traditional national practices of illegal cultivation through the use of altitude and the variety of the plant being grown. Lesotho, deprived of access to the sea, sought to enhance its mountains by considering itself very well placed to produce “large volumes of high quality cannabis and hemp at attractive prices due to its expertise in high-end cultivation. Then the successful company chose to produce Cannabis Sativa, a high cannabidiol (CBD) strain with no psychotropic effect, which differs from high tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) plants preferred by traffickers. Sativa is used to relieve the aches and pains of patients when conventional drugs no longer work in severe conditions such as cancer, AIDS or multiple sclerosis.

The Medigrow Society was fortunate to be elected by the monarch, His Majesty King Letsie III and the government that sits in Maseru.

By creating a formal network of legal African cannabis growers producing world-class medical cannabis products for global distribution, Medigrow Africa had a realistic and commercial vision from the outset: to produce medicinal cannabis of European quality at African costs. The stated mission was to "give the greatest number of people in the world access to medicines from the cannabis plant, and to benefit as many Africans as possible through the establishment of a medicinal cannabis industry in Africa. "

Since then, the company claims to provide African medicinal cannabis products qualified as exceptional in the global market by combining global best practices and technical resources with traditional local knowledge and the favorable climate of Africa to cultivate high level cannabis.

In addition, it declares itself able to provide governments with expertise on the appropriate license conditions, the implementation of legalization, pilot projects and the production of medical cannabis.

According to Medigrow, Africa can become a hub for the production of medical cannabis around the world and provide work for many people who are deprived of it. However, can the African reality work, and under what conditions, correspond to the vision of the pioneer society?