KAMPALA – A delay by Cabinet to approve guidelines in a White Paper for medical marijuana growing has raised fears that the process is being compromised by top government officials.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, at the end of last year, drafted 15 stringent guidelines that companies seeking to grow marijuana for medical purposes must follow.
But two months into the New Year, the Cabinet has gone silent on the process, yet the Cannabis Project is expected to create 100,000 jobs in the country.
This website understands that Cabinet was on Monday, January 27, 2020, set to discuss and approve the guidelines but the item has since been shelved.
According to sources, some firms are already growing marijuana illegally making the Cabinet White paper an urgent matter.
Industrial Hemp Uganda Ltd, a private company based in Hima, Kasese District, has since 2017 been enjoying the monopoly working with Industrial Globus Pharma Uganda Ltd (a subsidiary of Together Pharma from Israel) to grow medical marijuana for export to Germany and Canada.
Some of the companies with pending licenses include; Natgro Phama (U) Ltd, Medraw (U) SMC Ltd, Urban Properties (U) Ltd, Prime Ranchers, Silver Seeds (U) Ltd, Dave and Dave Group, Seven Blades, Cannops Africa, Quest Worths International Group, Premier Hemp, Sativa Agro-tech Ltd, Zeus Agro Ltd and Owesia (U) Ltd.
According to a draft copy of the guidelines seen by this website, individuals and companies seeking to grow or export marijuana for medical purposes will be required to present minimum capital of $5m (about UGX.18.3 billion) and a bank guarantee of Shs4 billion.
The government will want all investors to present tax clearance certificates from the Uganda Revenue Authority, valid trading license, and evidence of value addition to cannabis and audited accounts, among others.
The guidelines further stipulate that marijuana farms/sites must not be located near schools, hospitals, and residential areas and in case of any associates/business partners and such details must be disclosed to government including site designs, a robust security system with access control systems and intrusion systems in place.
The draft report by Dr Aceng indicates the stringent guidelines are intended to prevent abuse of the marijuana growing licences.
Cannabis is a proven pharmaceutical product for treating severe medical conditions, such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, and other neurological conditions.