At Paradise Seeds, we like to keep an eye on developments in the cannabis world, and this year we have covered the scene in European countries such as the UK, France and Italy while keeping you updated on what is happening in Canada.
However there is one continent that has been traditionally very quiet on the cannabis news front which is surprising considering its long historical association with the plant in herbal and resin form (the hashish production that predominates in North Africa). Africa has long had a reputation for producing cannabis; from the cheap ‘bush’ weed that was imported into Europe in the days before home cannabis cultivation became popular, to landrace ‘brand’ names, the very mention of which was enough to have connoisseurs salivating!
These famous strains include Durban Poison, Kilimanjaro, Swazi Gold and Malawi, not to mention the legendary potent sativa, Black African Magic (named as such because the buds are actually black) which is almost as rare as the continent’s legend of the animal kingdom, the Black Rhino!
Certainly at Paradise Seeds we have always been big fans of the African gene pool and our award winning strain Dutch Dragon is an example of a Paradise variety that has Africa in its roots.
Legal Cannabis Grow in Lesotho
However, we may be hearing a lot more about Africa and cannabis in the coming years following the recent announcement that Africa has granted its first license to legally grow medical marijuana. Verve Dynamics has been given the go ahead to begin cultivating, processing and selling medical marijuana for medical and scientific use by the Ministry of Health in the country of Lesotho.
If you have not heard of Lesotho before, then you are probably not alone! With 2 million inhabitants, this landlocked state is completely surrounded by South Africa. The climate and geography of Lesotho – high altitude, good water supply and fertile soil - make it a perfect growing environment. As a result, the Lesotho people have a long tradition of cultivating cannabis and using it for medicinal purposes.
Because of domestic poverty (an estimated 40% of the population lives on less than $1.25 a day), cannabis cultivation has always been popular in Lesotho and it has been identified as the number one cash crop for the country’s farmers, with most of the weed produced being sold in South Africa.
Which Way for Cannabis in Africa?
Many in the region will hope that this license is just the first step in a more progressive approach towards cannabis in Africa. A report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimated that 7.7% of the adult population on the continent (over 38 million people) use cannabis every year. The potential economic benefits for a regulated legal cannabis market will have many in the industry keeping a close eye on developments.
From a medical perspective too, the potential is huge and as scientific research into the health benefits of the plant continue, the region’s historical relationship with cannabis use for medicine could yield extra benefits based on knowledge and experience.
We hope that whatever happens in Africa, it is Africa that benefits, and that cannabis does not become the latest commodity from this mighty continent to be colonised by foreign capital seeking profit. A socially responsible model, which views user welfare over wealth generation, is being pursued by the Daya Foundation in Chile and Africa’s next generation of green pioneers would benefit from seeking inspiration from adopting a similar model.