Swaziland lawmakers are to investigate legalising the use of cannabis as a way of boosting the kingdom's ailing economy.
They believe the small landlocked kingdom with a population of about 1.3 million people could make E23.4 billion (US$1.63 billion) in a year. This would be 26 times more than the value of sugar, Swaziland's major crop. They believe the gross domestic product of the kingdom could triple.
A campaign has been running in Swaziland for some time to legalise cannabis (also known as marijuana and dagga). The economy of the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch, is always in the doldrums. The King lives a lavish lifestyle with at least 13 palaces, fleets of top-of-the-range BMW and Mercedes cars and a private jet. He is soon to take delivery of another jet. Meanwhile, seven in ten of his subjects live in abject poverty with incomes less than US$2 per day.
The Swazi House of Assembly was told on Friday (31 March 2017) that various products could be made from the cannabis plant, including carpets and army uniforms and it could treat diseases like tuberculosis, cancer and HIV.
The House appointed a five-member committee to explore the possibility further.