GHANA – Ghana has become the first West African country to legalize the cultivation of cannabis for medicinal and industrial purposes, although recreational use of marijuana remains illegal.

The country’s Minister of the Interior will now be able to legally distribute permits for the cultivation of certain varieties of hemp cannabis whose content of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the substance responsible for hallucinogenic effects) is less than 0.3%.

This milestone achievement comes after the Supreme Court intervened and declared section 43 of the law as unconstitutional, thereby hindering the smooth passage of the legislation.

Section 43 of Act 1019 previously authorized the Minister, based on the Commission’s recommendation, to grant licenses for the cultivation of cannabis, commonly known as “wee” in Ghana. However, this provision has been eliminated due to its unconstitutional nature.

Ghana’s Parliament took up the Narcotics Control Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2023, which consists of a single clause that, once passed, will empower the Minister to grant licenses for cannabis cultivation within the country.

The MPs passed the controversial bill that paves the way for the development of a well-regulated cannabis industry in Ghana, ensuring that its cultivation and usage adhere to strict guidelines and quality standards.

People the BBC spoke to on the streets of the capital, Accra, said it was a positive move, only if growers are going to be properly overseen. “We need to control its usage – we should have a system of policing it,” one man said.

This progressive approach mirrors a broader trend in Africa, as several nations have taken the leap to legalize cannabis for medical and scientific purposes.

Africa has 11 countries that have legalized medical cannabis in some form, mainly for export only. These include Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia, Malawi, Uganda, Ghana, Morocco, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Rwanda.

The cannabis business is on a path of exponential growth, with Fortune Business Insights projecting the global cannabis market size to grow from US$57.18 billion in 2023 to US$444.34 billion by 2030, at a CAGR of 34.03% during the forecast period.

According to the update released by Prohibition Partners, countries such as South Africa, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Uganda, and Malawi have seen an increase in license issuance, exports, and investments in the industry.

“Although momentum has been encouraging, the pace of progress in Africa has been notably slower than in other legal jurisdictions, potentially jeopardizing an opportunity for Africa to establish a leading and sustainable position in the industry,” the report underscored.

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