The Zambian Army has announced that it will start growing cannabis, ahead of the potential passing of recently-introduced cannabis legalization legislation. While the move is promising and is expected to create over 3000 new jobs, it is potentially premature and could face roadblocks, the first of which is the legislation legalizing cannabis which is yet to pass through the nation’s parliament.
Commander Solochi, the general in charge of the Zambian army said in late February that his forces would acquire land in several provinces of the country to grow medical cannabis. Planting is now expected to begin this month.
It is now expected that the initiative will see more than 3,000 jobs created by the Zambian Army, supported by traditional leaders, Zambia’s land keepers, who have “agreed” to freely cede some of their lands for cannabis deployment.
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Zambian Cannabis: A New African Leader?
Unlike its neighbors South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Lesotho, Zambia is one of the countries in Africa that is taking its time to move towards the legalization of medical cannabis, or at least its cultivation and export. Medical cannabis is banned for Zambian residents but the country, like the UK until recently, allows its cultivation and export.
“Zambia has some of the richest soil in Africa ecologically and, given the country’s huge size, dense virgin land that, on paper, is fantastic for high-quality cannabis. It is a mystery why Zambia has so far been absent from the cannabis deals in Lesotho, South Africa, Malawi, or Zimbabwe,” says analyst Dennis Juru of the South Africa International Cross Borders Traders Association.
Is the Zambian Army Moving too Soon?
According to local feedback, so far the Zambian parliament has only “approved the publication and introduction of a bill in parliament for the legalization of cannabis cultivation.
“Zambia sees cannabis as a security crop, hence the army’s decision to pre-empt legalization to seize land for cannabis,” says Deogracias Kalima, a freelance ecology writer for Unsustainable magazine and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in neighboring Malawi, where Mike Tyson has been appointed cannabis ambassador.
Militarizing Cannabis Is Becoming a Regional Trend
Zambia is not the only country in the region that appears to be militarizing cannabis. Its southern neighbor Zimbabwe, which legalized cannabis back in 2018, is also a place where cannabis has been militarized. First, Zimbabwe’s police and prison service, which are heavily militarized state agencies, were granted the first licenses in 2019 to grow cannabis plantations on prison sites for export.
“The Zambian military, like that of its neighbor Zimbabwe, is the ultimate ‘deep state’. It has obviously observed the trend in neighboring Zimbabwe to partially militarize lucrative cannabis transactions and thought, ‘Why can’t we do the same here?
It should also be noted that the Italian military had also started to grow medical cannabis, with catastrophic results in terms of quantity and quality, prompting the Italian government to open up cultivation to the private sector. We’ll have to wait and see if the same fate awaits the Zambian military.
(Photo by Wesley Gibbs on Unsplash)
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Desmond O’Flynn believes in minimalism and the power of beer. As a young reporter for some of the largest national publications, he has lived in the world of finance and investing for nearly three decades. He has since included world politics and the global economy in his portfolio. He also writes about entrepreneurs and small businesses, as well as innovation in fintech, gambling, and cannabis industries.