60 medicinal cannabis licences issued 

Source: 60 medicinal cannabis licences issued | The Sunday Mail

60 medicinal cannabis licences issued

Sunday Mail Reporters

The Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (ZIDA) has licensed 60 companies to manufacture medicinal cannabis, as the country starts producing medication from Cannabis, dubbed Cannabidiol (CBD) complementary medicines.

Zimbabwe is targeting to make cannabis one of its leading exports, with an annual revenue of US$1 billion expected. Recently, the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) approved production of CBD complementary medicines and invited drug manufacturers to apply for production licences.

Investors responded overwhelmingly to the call and ZIDA is confident local farmers can produce enough medicinal cannabis to support the industry. ZIDA’s chief innovation officer Dr Raban Masuka said investment into medicinal cannabis is on a steady growth.

“Medicinal cannabis is licensed in two places. There is a regulatory licence obtained from the Ministry of Health and Child Care through MCAZ as the regulator,” he said.

“When they have the licence, which costs US$50 000 plus US$7 250 VAT, they will then submit an application for an investment licence which is obtained at ZIDA. To date, we have licensed nearly 60 medicinal cannabis producers.”

Dr Masuka said medicinal cannabis is produced in a greenhouse with a hectare costing a minimum of US$650 000 to set up.

“According to the Investment Stability Agreement (ISA) which was approved by Cabinet in October 2020, investors are encouraged to install smart technology at their facilities so that Government, through the Minister of Health and Child Care, can monitor and assess activities whenever he wants to,” he said.

“On average, a hectare will give about 4 000 kg of cannabis wet flower, which will lose 10-15 percent weight on drying and you need an average of 8,2kg of dry flower per litre of THC/CBD oil. The return per hectare can be at least US$1,5m — US$8m depending on market and off-take agreements.”

MCAZ acting director-general Mr Richard Rukwata told The Sunday Mail his office is flooded with applications from investors who are interested in producing CBD complementary medicines.

“Quite a number of individuals have expressed interest in submitting their products for approval, and the Authority has since started receiving applications for approval of Hemp-base CBD complementary medicines,” he said.

CBD complementary medicines can treat a range of ailments including cancer, anxiety, pain and seizures.

“Anyone who has acquired the approved complementary CBD product through the right channels, that is either in a retail shop or a pharmacy can buy. The only condition is that the specified complementary CBD product should have been approved by the authority,” Mr Rukwata said.

Farmers have hailed approval of CBD products. Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) president Mr Shadreck Makombe said it will earn them foreign currency.

“As much as there are other farmers who are already into it we are still at the inception stage,” he said.

“Even the output is still low because of the high cost of the business. But it’s an opportunity for us to generate foreign currency and the good thing is that we have already started and we won’t have to play catch-up when the global industry finally picks.”

Zimbabwe is among 21 countries, including South Africa and the United Kingdom, which have approved regulated use and sale of CBD products.

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