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‘MPs key to chamba use in Malawi’

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By Taonga Sabola:

The government has said lawmakers hold the key to whether Malawi could legalise the cultivation and use of cannabis sativa, locally known as chamba.

Information Minister, Nicholas Dausi, was reacting to the decision by South Africa’s highest court to legalise the private use of cannabis on Tuesday, a development commentators believe would open doors of opportunity for Malawi in the wake of continued suppressed earnings from top forex earner, tobacco.

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Dausi said, unless the laws of Malawi are changed, cannabis remains an illegal substance in Malawi.

In his judgement in South Africa on Tuesday, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo said: “It will not be a criminal offence for an adult person to use or be in possession of cannabis in private for his or her personal consumption.”

But Dausi said Malawi has its own laws which have to be respected.

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“So far, the law regarding the use of cannabis has not been changed. Unless Parliament meets to change the law, cannabis remains illegal in Malawi,” Dausi said.

Calls for Malawi to legalise cannabis were brought to Parliament in April 2000 when the then deputy minister of Agriculture, Joe Manduwa, asked the House to allow the cultivation and use of the banned substance.

Indian hemp is illegal and those found cultivating, in possession or trading the same are arrested and prosecuted in courts of law.

Manduwa told the House Malawi stood to benefit a great deal from cultivating the plant which, according to him, is a much-sought-after commodity on the world market as it has important uses that can earn this country a lot of foreign exchange, as it happens in countries that have legalised the use of the product.

Around 2015, Malawi approved the use cultivation of industrial hemp on trial basis.

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