Health and Child Care Minister, Dr David Parirenyatwa has cleared the air on government’s decision to legalize marijuana saying it was introduced for professional purposes.
Parirenyatwa’s clarification follows varied misconceptions of its use in the country.
Officiating at the Zimbabwe Medical Congress last week, Parirenyatwa said marijuana was introduced in a professional way though many members of the medical profession did not seem to realize the knowledge gap on the process.
“The Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) submitted correspondence to the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) requesting the Government to consider legalizing cannabis for medicinal and scientific purposes following receipt of an application from a company in March 2015 to cultivate the plant,
“After extensive literature reviews by a multi-sectoral Technical Committee; it appeared medicinal cannabis had potential value for alleviating some medical conditions. Cabinet decided to legalise production of cannabis for medicinal and scientific purposes initially,
“There are three known uses for cannabis; medicinal, industrial and recreational. Zimbabwe has approved for now, the medicinal use and may later develop the industrial hemp with the recreational use remaining illegal.” explained Parirenyatwa.
There are three species of cannabis namely sativa sativa, with medicinal properties; indica (marijuana) which has psychoactive properties and ruderalis.
In Africa, only two countries, Lesotho and Zimbabwe have published regulations for the cultivation of medicinal cannabis with South Africa issuing guidelines for the cultivation of industrial hemp.
Parirenyatwa added that smoking is not recommended for medicinal purposes explaining the possible pharmaceutical formulations.
“Smoking is not generally recommended for medicinal purposes.The following are the possible pharmaceutical formulations for development guided by formulation studies Suppositories, Nasal sprays, tablets, oil capsules,edible cannabinoids as a nutritional supplement and topical creams,
“Zimbabwe has the potential to provide low cost and high yield medicinal cannabis due to favorable climate and appropriate soils. The plan is for Zimbabwe to become a hub and to develop into a world coordinator across all sectors for medicinal cannabis, with its own unique brand after value addition.” he added.
According to Parirenyatwa, initial producer licences for pilots would be issued to government entities in partnership with the private sector under the Public Private Partnerships (PPP) programme.