AN aspiring entrepreneur in the medical marijuana business will have to fork out M500 000 for a licence to cultivate, supply or distribute, store, export, import and manufacture products from the medicinal plant.
This follows the recent gazetting of the regulations governing the medical marijuana by the government.
Titled the ‘Drugs of Abuse (Cannabis) Regulations, 2018 Act’, the new regulations state that the main operating licence which allows the licensee to engage in several activities ranging from cultivation to export costs M500 000 and it can be renewed for M350 000.
A prospective entrepreneur who only intends to grow medical marijuana will have to pay M150 000 for a licence. Those who intend to manufacture medical marijuana products will also pay M150 000 while those who want to conduct testing will have to pay M100 000.
Licences for research, transportation and supply of medical marijuana cost M50 000 each while those for storage cost M10 000.
Those seeking to renew the cultivation and manufacturing licence are each expected to pay M100 000.
The regulations came into force on 18 May 2018.
Before applying for a licence, a prospective applicant must first meet with the Lesotho Narcotics Bureau and declare their intention to establish such a business to explain the objective and policy of their company.
The applicant must also provide recent audited financial statements, bank statement and any other information which may be required to prove they have the needed capital.
The bureau should respond to the applicant in seven days and furnish them with an overview of the laws which govern the industry, the application evaluation criteria and provide them with the application form.
The application form must be returned to the minister of health after being filled.
Upon being granted a licence, the applicant has to notify the minister 30 days prior to the commencement of operations.
Manufacturing has to be conducted under conditions and controls which minimise the potential growth of micro-organisms, allergen cross-contact, contamination and or deterioration of the marijuana product.
An independent laboratory will test the cannabis product for heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium and arsenic as well as microbiological impurity.
The regulations come a year after Lesotho made history by becoming the first African country to legalise the cultivation of medical marijuana.
Regional counterpart, Zimbabwe, followed suit and legalised the production of the drug in April this year.
The Zimbabwean licences will however, not come cheap as it will cost US$50 000 (M600 000) for a five year licence to grow medical marijuana at one site. Those intending to grow the crop at different sites will have to fork out US$50 000 for each site of production.
Zimbabwe’s Health Minister, David Parirenyatwa told the Lesotho Times that Zimbabwe had moved to legalise the growing of medical marijuana because if its huge potential to grow the country’s economy through exports of cannabis oils for medicinal purposes.
“We will making announcements in due course but for now I can say that medical marijuana will help to grow the economy as there is a huge export market for cannabis oils.
“The production of medical marijuana will create jobs and will also contribute to nutrition as it is high in proteins,” Dr Parirenytwa said
The world-wide medical marijuana industry is projected by forbes.com to grow from US$7, 7 billion in 2017 to $31, 4 billion in 2021.
According to the Grand View Research Inc, the global medical marijuana market is expected to reach a value of US$ 55, 8 billion by 2025.