Dodoma — The rush by several countries around the World to legalise the use of marijuana, either for medical or recreational purposes has attracted the interest of a Tanzanian lawmaker.
Kahama Urban MP Jumanne Kishimba (CCM) now wants the country to consider legalising the growing and use of marijuana, popularly known as bhang.
Mr Kishimba yesterday drew the excitement of the Parliament in Dodoma by suggesting that Tanzania could make lots of money by allowing marijuana to be used for medical purposes.
"Eighty percent of pains killers are made of marijuana. I wonder why TFDA (Food and Drugs Authority) does not sample these drugs and inform us otherwise," the MP said.
Mr Kishimba said four African countries have legalised marijuana farming for medical use, including Lesotho, Uganda and Zimbabwe while a South African court recently ruled it should be legalised for both medical and recreational use.
Uganda has started to earn millions of dollars by exporting marijuana for medical use and recently bought seeds of the weed for planting.
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In Kenya, there is a court petition on allowing the use of marijuana while dozens of other nations around the globe are increasingly adopting the plant for medical use, with some like Canada approving it even for recreation.
Farming and consumption of marijuana is illegal in Tanzania. One could be imprisoned for 30 years and, or fined millions of shillings if found with the contraband.
While debating the Ministry of Agriculture's budget estimates for the 2019/2020 financial year, Mr Kishimba said the crop is valuable because one sack could generate up to Sh20 million.
"Authoriteis should ask distributors of pain killers where they are getting marijuana supply. Mr Speaker we have marijuana here but all we are witnessing is its destruction by security agencies. The truth is that most of the marijuana grown here may not be for smoking but for medical use," he said.
He said here in Tanzania, one sack of marijuana is sold for between Sh4 million and Sh4.5 million but could fetch up to Sh20 million in Zimbabwe fo the same quantity.
"All marijuana grown in Tanzania should go into manufacturing human drugs. What will be wrong for the government to start issuing licenses to allow its farming as this will be economically beneficial," he said.
He said he does not support the proposal by his fellow MP for Geita Rural Mr Joseph Msukuma who wanted the weed legalised for all purposes, including smoking.