Malawi's legislators have passed a bill to legalize cannabis, the plant that produces hemp and marijuana for medical use, as the country looks to reduce its reliance on tobacco.
Parliament on Thursday afternoon passed the Cannabis Regulation Bill which seeks to distinguish the criminalised Indian hemp (chamba) from medicinal cannabis through cultivation, production, possession and marketing.
The bill which was first tabled by former legislator Boniface Kadzamira.
Legislators backed it, saying it was better to regulate the hemp trade and help Malawi's economy to grow.
The new legislation will allow licensing farmers to grow the drug strictly for medicinal use.
Tobacco industry, the country's biggest foreign exchange earner, has dwindled due to anti-tobacco campaigns, farmers are now looking to grow cannabis following the legalisation of hemp.
Advocates of the medical use of marijuana say it can help with a range of conditions, easing chronic pain and the symptoms of multiple sclerosis and paraplegia.
However, anti-drug campaigners worry legalizing medical marijuana will encourage more recreational use but they're facing an uphill battle against those who argue to regulate the trade and help Malawi's economy grow.