Uganda has with immediate effect halted the issuing of an investment license to an Israel ﬁrm, Together Pharma Limited, who had reportedly secured land in Kasese to cultivate medical cannabis popularly known as marijuana on a commercial scale.
According to Evelyn Anite, Uganda’s State Minister for Investment, they are still awaiting guidance from Cabinet and Parliament for proper direction and setting up of the necessary laws.
“Cabinet has asked the Ministry of Health to do more research on the growing and exporting of medical cannabis. There are four more investors who want to grow cannabis for medical benefits but the Ministry was tasked to see how it will be grown controlled and set up the necessary laws to govern such a sector.
“In that, before the Ministry of Health makes a report to the cabinet and Parliament has set up the necessary laws, the license that had been issued is withheld until all the above is in place,” said Anite.
Uganda Investment Authority (UIA), had on March 18, 2019, cleared Together Pharma, to start growing marijuana in Kasese, Busongora County North 079, Hima Town Council.
In Uganda, the company was to operate as Industrial Globus Uganda Ltd and had acquired land to grow medical cannabis (marijuana) for export.
“After doing due diligence and consulting different stakeholders like the Ministry of Health, National Drug Authority, Uganda Police Force, Financial Intelligence Authority, the investment License was issued under Section 16 of the Investment Code, 1991,” said Emily Kugonza the UIA Board Chairman.
However, Anite said the government has not conclusively decided on the issuing of the investment license to the Cannabis Company hence the immediate halting.
The company had promised to build a marijuana oil extraction plant in Kampala with an initial investment of $5m (Shs18.7 billion).
According to the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act 2015, anyone involved in the manufacture, production, sale or distribution of a narcotic drug or psychotropic substance commits an offence and is liable, on conviction, to a ﬁne not exceeding sh2.4m or imprisonment not exceeding ﬁve years or both.
The law also prohibits the cultivation of any plant from which narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances may be extracted without permission from the health minister. The prohibited plants, according to the law, include cannabis, coca bush, catha edulis, papaver sominferum (opium poppy) and papaver setigerum.
Together Pharma Limited has permission to grow and market marijuana for medical justiﬁcations in Israel.
It is estimated that Israel could earn between $285m and $1.14b a year from the industry. There are several companies in Israel engaged in cannabis production. Apparently, a ban on exports is prompting manufacturers of products containing marijuana to look outside Israel for large-scale cannabis cultivation.
BY PAUL TENTENA