A Lilongwe-based company that was set up for processing and exporting of cannabis, Ikaros Africa Limited, has closed shop.
This comes in the absence of an enabling law that allows for production, sales and export of medicinal hemp.
The company’s Managing Director, Chancy Jele, said they could not roll out in the absence of the enabling legislation.
“We invested about $200 million dollars on machines which we bought from Italy. We are now transferring the machines to South Africa. We have been spending K20 million every month as we waited to roll out.
“We have tried to engage ministries of Industry and Trade and Agriculture but nothing seems to be moving. This means the 48 people we employed, all Malawians, have lost their jobs. Without the law we cannot do anything,’’ Jele said.
Parliament passed the Cannabis Regulation Bill in February this year.
The law seeks to distinguish the criminalised Indian hemp (chamba) from medicinal cannabis through cultivation, production, possession and marketing.
Former president Peter Mutharika assented to the bill but it has not yet been gazetted.
Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Grey Nyandule Phiri, said the ministry is waiting for the operationalisation of the law.
“We are waiting for regulations. There are procedures that we are following. The company could have waited,” Nyandule Phiri said.
The law provides for regulation of research, cultivation, production, processing, possession, storage, export, sales, distribution and use of cannabis and its products for medicinal, industrial or scientific purposes under prescribed conditions.