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Malawi Government Urges Cannabis Farmers To Form Collectives

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The country’s minister of Agriculture has urged cannabis farmers to form cooperatives to increase their bargaining power.

In yet another sign that the African continent is shaping up to be a power player in the world of international cannabis, Lobin Lowe, the Minister of Agriculture, has urged domestic cannabis cultivators to work together to increase their leverage (and pricing). Lowe is supportive of including cannabis as a critical part of the country’s agricultural export strategy to help build domestic development.

The Minister’s remarks came during a training workshop for farmers.

The focus here will be to create regulated products that can be exported to markets that require certifications (like the European medical market). Uncertified cultivations, however, will still be illegal.

Ready, Set, License?

So far, the government has issued 72 licenses to both local and international companies. 

However, the government is also considering issuing special licenses to local farmers so that Malawians can benefit from the crop locally.

The differentiation between cannabis for export and that grown domestically for local consumption is one that has been growing steadily over the last couple of years – and is a global phenom.

Holland is one example of the same in Europe, as is the Czech Republic. In Thailand, medical crops for domestic use are grown by farmers who are not complying with EU-GMP standards but are delivering it direct to domestic hospitals.

This dichotomy may become more widespread in places where capital is scarce (such as the developing world) and as another issue enters the room – namely recreational reform.

Regardless, the idea of cannabis as both export crop and domestic cultivar for the benefit of local citizens is one that is spreading, particularly as cannabis access becomes normalized.

Democratic access to the plant, regardless of resources to pay, is a discussion that is also clearly in the room. This is not a drug of the 1%, even if patients must grow their own illicitly.

This realization, in fact, particularly in places like Africa where cannabis has been traditionally and illegally grown.

Which Certifications Count?

This distinction, and not just from crops from Africa, is likely to continue to grow with the increasing tide of cannabis cultivation internationally. 

However, it is unlikely that the pharma standards of GMP will disappear from the medical discussion in places like Europe. Even in places like South Africa, where cannabis is still considered a drug of last resort, the only way that companies can distribute through the medical system is to have the drug licensed in Europe.

Regardless, the African discussion is throwing new themes into an already complex global discussion about cannabinoids, generally, and how they should be classified.

In the meantime, countries like Malawi are creating a domestic infrastructure to support both.

Be sure to stay tuned to the International Cannabis Business Conference blog to learn about global trends affecting the cannabis industry.