Uganda’s health ministry has issued guidelines to individuals and companies seeking to grow or export marijuana for medical purposes, paving the way for the East African country to join cannabis-producing countries on the continent.

According to the guidelines, investors must be cleared by the tax authorities, present evidence of value addition to cannabis and have minimum capital of $5m (Shs18.3b) and a bank guarantee of $1m (Shs4b).

While the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 2015 legalised cultivation, production and exportation of medical marijuana and mandated the Health minister to issue written consent for medical marijuana, the absence of guidelines prevented the industry from taking off.

The guidelines will now be approved by cabinet, and lawmakers briefed on the developments.

‘‘I will be presenting paperwork on cannabis to Cabinet for them to approve guidelines and consider the growth of cannabis,’‘ Uganda’s health minister Dr. Aceng told Daily Monitor last week.

The ministry also wants farms/sites to be located far away from schools, hospitals and residential areas. Details of associates/business partners must be disclosed to government, including site designs, a robust security system with access control systems and intrusion systems in place.

Uganda will be joining other countries like Zambia, Lesotho and Zimbabwe have relaxed laws regulating growth and export.

However, growing of cannabis for treating severe medical conditions such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis and other neurological conditions is already happening in Uganda.