By Thabi Kamwangala:
The Cannabis Regulatory Authority (CRA) has said it will review industrial hemp licencing fees at its next board meeting.
This comes as local potential investors have been lamenting over the issue of ‘exorbitant’.
The industrial hemp licencing fee stands at K1.7 million including a non-refundable processing fee of K500, 000 while the medicinal hemp licencing fee is K9 million, with a non-refundable processing fee of K1 million.
CRA Board Chairperson Boniface Kadzamira said in an interview that the review is part of the board’s top agenda for its next meeting.
“We noted that, when we released the fees, people complained, saying that the fees are too high. As such, we have taken the complaints into consideration and we will be reviewing them soon.
“We must point out that we will only review the industrial hemp licencing fees and not medicinal licencing fees,” Kadzamira said
He said the nature of medicinal hemp was taken into account when considering the fees.
“It is difficult to reduce medicinal hemp licencing fees because, if abused, it could have negative effects. So, we will not review this [fee] until we review if people will stick to the agreements; whereas for industrial hemp, it can be treated as an agricultural plant.” He said
Meanwhile, CRA and some players in the industry have said that Cannabis has potential to contribute substantially to national economic development.
Founder of Invegrow, a local medicinal and industrial cannabis producer, Tanya Clarke, said the industry has great potential.
“For most people, there is still a misconception about the crop but it is important to make people aware that there are different products, both medicinal and industrial, that can be made from the product. It is not just for smoking. So, there is certainly a need for awareness and sensitisation on the crop,” he said.
Economist from the Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences Betchani Tchereni said, as the economy faces forex woes, intensified production of alternative export crops such as cannabis remains ideal.
“Improved cannabis industry would mean more foreign exchange, more jobs and industrialisation for the country. So it is a huge opportunity,” he said.
Parliament enacted the Cannabis Act in February 2020, after seven years of attempts to get it up and running. In April 2020, the bill was assented to and in September 2020 the CRA was formulated.