Secrecy shrouds granting of mbanje growing licences

FORMER Zifa chairperson Henrieta Rushwaya was early this year granted a licence to grow mbanje for research and medicinal purposes amid a veil of secrecy.

Government last year regularised the growing, processing and supply of hemp (cannabis) by farmers countrywide for industrial and research purposes.

Rushwaya, who applied for the licence with the Ministry of Health and Child Care, got in March this year.

In authorising Rushwaya, the ministry said: “The ministry is pleased to advise that your application for a licence for the production of medical cannabis has been approved.“

The licensing of hemp is done in terms of Statutory Instrument 62 of 2018 on Dangerous Drugs – Production of Cannabis for Medical and Scientific use Regulations, for which the successful candidate will pay a stipulated fee and be required to comply with the specified regulations.

The producer licence for cannabis is valid for five years and may be renewed thereafter before its expiry.

The regulations give powers to the Health minister to cancel a producer’s licence in circumstances such as when the minister has reasonable grounds to believe that the licence was issued on the basis of false or misleading information in the submitted documents for application of the licence.

The minister may cancel the licence upon receipt of information from an inspector, a competent authority or the United Nations raising reasonable grounds to believe that the licensed producer had been involved in the diversion of a controlled substance, among other reasons.

Meanwhile, the granting of cannabis licenses has remained shrouded in secrecy, with only Rushwaya’s name being acknowledged while other recipient’s identities have been kept under wraps.

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