Mid-October this year, businessman Sudhir Ruparelia wrote a lengthy letter to President Yoweri Museveni making a case for a need to license local companies that have expressed interest to grow marijuana for medical purposes.
Sudhir’s call came after the ministry of health and government had expressed that allowing the licensed commercial growing of marijuana and cannabis possess a health risk to the public and was therefore working out new laws and regulations to guide the farming of the herb.
And now the U.N. Commission on Narcotic Drugs has voted to remove cannabis and cannabis resin from a category of the world’s most dangerous drugs, which could impact the global medical marijuana industry.
The Vienna-based U.N. agency said in a statement that it had voted 27-25, with one abstention, to follow the World Health Organization’s recommendation to remove cannabis and cannabis resin from Schedule IV of the 1961 Convention on Narcotic Drugs, where it was listed with heroin and several other opioids.
The drugs that are on Schedule IV are a subset of those on Schedule I of the convention, which already requires the highest levels of international control.
The agency voted to leave cannabis and cannabis resin on the list of Schedule I drugs, which also include cocaine, Fentanyl, morphine, Methadone, opium and oxycodone, the opiate painkiller sold as OxyContin.
With this move by the UN and WHO, the farming of marijuana and cannabis presents an opportunity for tropical Africa to make billions of dollars. Countries like Rwanda are fast-tracking regulation to allow farmers to make much-needed investments.
And in Uganda, Sudhir through Premier Hemp wants to spearhead this business and help the country make money from the trade of marijuana. He said that market forces will determine which country will capture the market estimated to reach between USD40 billion and USD45 billion by 2025.
“The early birds will certainly catch the most and possibly the biggest worms. Those that will come on the next wave will have to play second-fiddle, hoping and praying for some storms of some kind so they can gain some short-lived windfalls,” Sudhir said in the letter to Museveni.
He said Uganda has a real opportunity to establish both a competitive and a fast-mover advantage in medical marijuana for export business. “We have the right climate and more arable land than most, if not all our neighbours combined,”
“If we miss this opportunity, we may probably never catch up. Medical Marijuana is a whole new industry, a game-changer. Global Research firm Nielsen predicts that by 2025, sales of all legalized cannabis in the U.S. alone will reach $41 billion,”
“Medical marijuana for export will not only create new revenue streams for the country, but it will also spur many other local value-addition sectors and thousands of jobs,” he noted.