Firms want medical cannabis bill to be fast-tracked  

Monday February 10 2020

 

By Monitor Reporter

Private companies that are interested in growing and exporting medical marijuana want the government to fast-track its decision on the industry.

In Uganda, less than two company have the licence to grow and export medical marijuana but several companies that are interested in the venture are awaiting Cabinet’s approval before starting their operations.

Industrial Hemp (U) Ltd, is currently working with Pharma Limited, one of the biggest Israeli cannabis firms, in growing marijuana for medical purposes in Uganda. They have invested $360m (about Shs1.3 trillion) in Hima, Kasese.

 Officials of Premier Hemp, one of the Ugandan companies seeking to grow or export marijuana for medical purposes, say there is need for the government to fast track the process, to enable interested entities participate in the business.

Mr Rajiv Ruparelia, the managing director of Ruparelia Group says Uganda has the opportunity to take the initiative ahead of her neighbours.

He said on Saturday that Premier Hemp Limited, the company under which they will trade, has applied for a licence to grow the crop and only waiting for approval from relevant bodies.

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 “It’s a new industry and a new ball game that will create hundreds of jobs to Ugandans,” he said at the weekend.  “The global cannabis phenomenon is taking off and Uganda has one of the best environments as well as land and labour for the industry,” he said.

Mr Ruparelia said that much as some organisations are opposed to the move, the fact is that the industry will spur economic development and make Uganda better since hundreds of jobs will be created.

Last month Cabinet resolved that individuals and companies seeking to grow or export marijuana for medical purposes will be required to present minimum capital of $5m (Shs18.3b) and a bank guarantee of Shs4b.

The growers will also be required to present a tax clearance certificate from the Uganda Revenue Authority, lists of employees and their job descriptions, a valid trading licence, evidence of value addition to cannabis and audited accounts.

It was also decided that marijuana farms/sites must not be located near schools, hospitals and residential areas and in case of any associates/business partners, the details must be disclosed to government, including site designs, a robust security system with access control systems and intrusion systems in place.

The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 2015, allows cultivation, production and exportation of medical marijuana and mandates the Health minister to issue written consent for medical marijuana. However, Dr Ruth Aceng, the health minister has since April last year kept the companies guessing due to absence of guidelines for the new industry.

Growing of cannabis for treating severe medical conditions like cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis and other neurological conditions is already happening in Uganda.

The company is expected to export medical marijuana from Uganda in March.

Licensed marijuana  companies

1. Industrial Hemp (U) Ltd

2. Together Pharma Ltd

Applied pending licence

3. Natgro Phama (U) Ltd

4. Medraw (U) SMC Ltd

5. Urban Properties (U) Ltd

6. Prime Ranchers

7. Silver Seeds (U) Ltd

8. Dave and Dave Group

9. Seven Blades

10. Cannops Africa

11. Quest Worths International Group

12. Premier Hemp

13.Sativa Agro-tech Ltd

14. Zeus Agro Ltd

15. Owesia U Ltd

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