By MOFFAT CHAZINGWA –
OPPOSITION Green Party of Zambia president Peter Sinkamba has submitted to the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) his proposals to set up a medicinal marijuana facility project.
The project dubbed ‘Green Gold Medicinal Investment’ seeks to cultivate, process, and dispense marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Mr Sinkamba said he was this week scheduled to meet DEC commissioner Alita Mbawe with the view to presenting the conceptual framework for the proposed pilot project earmarked to be implemented by Worldwide Environmental Risks Surveyors Limited (WERS), a Zambian registered company he owns.
“WERS intends to cultivate, process, and dispense marijuana for medicinal purposes pursuant to Section 9 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, Cap 96 of the Laws of Zambia,” Mr Sinkamba said.
He said in a statement yesterday that his company intended to seek clearance to proceed with the project pursuant to the legal provision and that a Letter of Intent had since been sent to the DEC commissioner.
The proposed cultivation facility had been earmarked for Copperbelt with four pilot Medical Marijuana Dispensary Centres proposed to be opened and located in Kitwe, Ndola, Lusaka, and Livingstone.
Mr Sinkamba said the Dispensary Centres would be used as outlets for dispensing medicinal marijuana to registered patients who would be required to obtain legal prescriptions from qualified medical doctors.
Qualified marijuana pharmacy staff would be employed to dispense the medicine and that the source for medicinal marijuana to be dispensed from the dispensaries would be strictly from the proposed cultivation facility.
He said there were seven objectives for the proposed pilot project, a first in Zambia, on cultivation, processing and dispensing of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Government, investors and the farming community will draw lessons from the experiences in the pilot project.
The second objective is to demonstrate how the country could use unconventional and creative thinking, what he termed ‘out-of-the-box’ strategies to grow the economy substantially.
“The revenue will be generated from local sales and exports, taxation, fees and levies. Depending on how successful the pilot project is, revenue generated, when medicinal marijuana business is scaled-up, could be one of the sustainable sources that government, in the long-run, may rely upon to significantly reduce the country’s debt burden,” Mr Sinkamba said.
The third objective is to create wealth for host communities and that this would be done through job creation and other business opportunities.
Among the other remaining objectives is to support Government efforts in quality healthcare delivery with focus of transforming an ‘illicit drug’ into an affordable, less toxic but essential drug.
The rest of the objectives are for the project to serve as a concept of medical tourism in Zambia, to demonstrate an innovative strategy, which government can adopt for full-scale implementation, as a means of diversifying from mining to high-value agriculture.
Mr Sinkamba said the pilot project was planned to produce approximately 500 tonnes of processed medicinal marijuana per annum by 2017.
He said a comprehensive cultivation facility and dispensary security plan for protecting the plants, equipment, inventory, products, and more importantly, the workers and communities would be developed.