As we traverse the unfolding chapters of the 21st century, an intriguing shift in policy dynamics is emerging from West Africa, specifically from the thriving nation of Ghana. This country, renowned for its vibrant culture and burgeoning economy, is joining an ever-growing global trend that is set to reshape the future: the cultivation of industrial cannabis.
According to Bloomberg, Ghana’s parliament recently passed a pivotal law that legalizes the cultivation of cannabis for industrial and medical purposes. The move serves as a significant milestone, signaling Ghana’s readiness to participate in the multibillion-dollar worldwide market for industrial cannabis. The potential for growth in this sector is enormous and comes at a time when the global discourse surrounding cannabis is experiencing rapid evolution.
However, this shift didn’t happen overnight. Before the legislation’s approval, there was a constitutional hurdle that needed to be overcome. The Supreme Court stepped in to prevent the statute’s passage by ruling that section 43 of the legislation was unconstitutional. Consequently, the Parliament adapted and passed the Narcotics Control Commission (Amendment) Bill 2023, which is now awaiting its final step – enactment.
In its essence, this bold move by Ghana’s government reveals an eager desire to explore the vast industrial potential of cannabis. Its industrial uses are multitudinous, from the creation of fibers to the production of seeds. All these possibilities are bound within a controlled growth environment that respects Ghana’s minister of interior’s ability to issue permits, ensuring that the cannabis grown falls within the Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) limits. For those unfamiliar with THC, it is the principal psychoactive constituent in cannabis responsible for creating the “high” sensation.
Ghana is not the only African nation embarking on this journey. Across the continent, we can witness an evident policy shift as countries that once heavily prosecuted citizens for cannabis-related offenses are now becoming advocates for its legal cultivation. Over the past five years, at least 10 African countries, including Lesotho, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Uganda, Malawi, Zambia, eSwatini, Rwanda, and Morocco, have passed laws that legalize the production of cannabis for medical and scientific purposes.
Yet, as The Conversation pointed out, there are policy and practical issues that require diligent attention to ensure that this sector’s changes yield beneficial impacts on the economy and livelihoods of Africans. Foremost among these is the critical need to guarantee the involvement of ordinary producers in the legal cannabis industry. This is crucial as the newly formed regulatory frameworks seem to currently favor corporate firms over smallholder farmers.
This rise in the industrial cannabis sector represents a significant shift in Ghana’s socio-economic landscape. As the country steps into this new era, a cautious and balanced approach is needed to ensure that the benefits of this burgeoning industry are shared equitably among all stakeholders, particularly the smallholder farmers. Only then will the promise of industrial cannabis truly begin to bloom in Ghana and across the African continent.