Several African governments are considering tapping a lucrative natural resource.
More than 10,000 tons of cannabis are produced on the continent each year, according to a UN survey, which advocates believe could be worth billions of dollars in a rapidly expanding global market for legal weed.
African governments have not yet followed the trend of legalization seen in Europe and the Americas. But Lesotho’s recent announcement of the continent’s first legal license to grow marijuana is part of a wider shift toward more liberal policies.
From Morocco to South Africa, there is growing interest in cashing in on a valuable crop. But in each case there are unique challenges to face.
The tiny, landlocked nation has few natural resources. But Lesotho is a giant of the marijuana trade.
“Cannabis is grown almost everywhere in the country,” a UNESCO report found, noting the industry is a leading contributor to the economy in a country plagued by poverty. Much of this comes through illicit trade with Lesotho’s larger, richer neighbor, South Africa.
The government has now signaled its intentions to bring the business out of the shadows by awarding the first license for cultivation and sale to South African alternative medicine company Verve Dynamics.
However, no formal steps have been taken to legalize or regulate the vast network of existing farmers and traders. [Read more at CNN]