The Zambian government has rejected an application by the opposition Green Party to cultivate marijuana for medicinal use.
“It will be irresponsible for government to allow the cultivation of marijuana as the plant is harmful to humans, regardless of the means of consumption,” Health Minister Chitalu Sampa told parliament.
Green Party president Peter Sinkamba, an ardent supporter of the legal cultivation of marijuana, brought an application to grow the plant on the strength of a legal loophole which allows the medicinal use of marijuana under exceptional circumstances.
The opposition leader has gone on record saying that legalising marijuana will generate an estimated US$30 billion in foreign exchange earnings and create many jobs.
He is supported by the Zambia Medical Association (ZMA) who believes legalising the cultivation of marijuana for medicinal purposes will be consistent with international developments.
But Sampa said licensing marijuana cultivation, whether for medical or any other purpose, will be disastrous.
“Marijuana consists of more than 400 compounds, including many toxic psychoactive elements whose long-term effects on human beings remain largely unstudied,” he said.