Cannabis Farming: The Billion-dollar Industry

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Green cannibis joint and herb laying on a wooden table

As Nigerian authorities continue to live in self-denial about the booming local Indian hemp industry, other countries of the world have started to see the economic potential of this psychoactive drug. Last April, a Ugandan producer consummated deals to export $160 million worth of cannabis to pharmacy chains in Canada and Germany.

In fact, an Israeli firm, Together, has set up a business called ‘Industrial Hemp Uganda Ltd’ in partnership with local Ugandan businessmen. Two months ago, Industrial Hemp received 20,000 orders from pharmacies in Canada and Uganda.

“We signed annual supply contracts with pharmacies in Canada to the tune of $100 million and €58 million for Germany,” the company has said. “The current contracts run for 10 years, but along the way, we shall expand to satisfy future demands.” This is happening even though cannabis is illegal in Uganda and Together is opening an export-focused cannabis cultivation facility there and coordinating with regulatory bodies. As of April, the Ugandan authorities had received applications from 14 different companies that want to cultivate cannabis and export it, which is legal under the Narcotic Drug and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Act 2015 of the country.

Since 2018, many stores in Canada have been struggling to meet the demand for cannabis. Most residents are made to get the products through a government-run website, and on the first day of legalization, the Ontario cannabis store had processed 100,000 orders and had only been able to supply a few. When cannabis was legalized in Colorado, the United States of America, it took three years to meet up with demand.

It was only in 2012 that Uruguay announced it would be the first country in the world to legalize recreational cannabis use. In large part, the move was aimed at replacing links between organised crime and the cannabis trade with more accountable state regulation.
Later the same year, voters in Washington State and Colorado became the first in the United States to support the legalization of the drug for non-medical use. Some reports from Colorado State University, recently found that the cannabis industry has contributed more than $58 million to the local economy primarily through tax and other fees.

In many parts of Latin America, governments want their farmers to have access to the potentially lucrative medicinal cannabis markets that are developing. Corporations have also expressed interest. For example, Altria, which owns cigarette brands including Marlboro, has made a $1.86 billion (£1.46 billion) investment in a Canadian cannabis company. A report from Prohibition Partners estimates that the European cannabis market will eventually reach €56.2 billion ($62.6 billion), of which €37.5 billion ($41.8 billion) will be medicinal and the rest recreational. Many European countries, including Germany, have legalized cannabis for medical purposes.

African countries such as Zimbabwe and Lesotho have also legalised medicinal marijuana. In Zimbabwe, both individuals and cooperation may apply for a license to grow the plant while in Lesotho, they solicit for foreign investment to grow medical marijuana on their soil, in order for them to become one of the top exporters.