On Monday, June 28, Rwanda through a new Ministerial Order outlined a framework for the growing, processing and medical use of cannabis in the country.
Among the provisions in the new ministerial order is the medical use of cannabis and cannabis products in the country.
The order noted that cannabis and related products can only be used on condition that it is prescribed by a specialist medical doctor.
For this purpose, the order specifies that a specialised medical doctor is one whom the Ministry of Health has given, in writing, the authority to prescribe cannabis and cannabis products for use by a patient.
Rwandan medical experts say that among key instances where cannabis-related medication may be prescribed include treatment of chronic pain stemming from different health issues, use in the administration of anesthesia as well as sedatives and hypnotics.
Medical marijuana has been found effective in management of chronic pain especially for patients with conditions such as cancer, severe accidents among others.
Local medical practitioners including doctors and pharmacists welcomed the development, noting that it is a significant pharmaceutical advancement.
Geoffrey Beingana, a pharmacist and global health specialist, noted that while it is a pharmaceutical advancement, it should remain in the hands of experts to avoid any chances of misuse.
"Medical marijuana is very important in pharmaceutical advancement. However, this should be put in the right hands of experts in this field to avoid any chances of misuse," he said.
Dr. Jean-Claude Byiringiro, the acting Chairperson of the Rwanda Medical and Dental Council welcomed the development, noting that it is known to have medical advantages.
He said that the local medical practitioners have adequate capacity and professionalism to ensure that there is no misuse or unnecessary prescription. He added that locally, there are other select medical products that can only be prescribed and administered by specialized medical professionals which has created a framework that could be replicated in medical marijuana prescription.
The new order does not in any way have provisions for cultivation, processing or use of cannabis for recreational purposes in the country.
Persons found to use, cultivate or sell marijuana outside the set order will be considered to be handling narcotics which is punishable by law.
According to the ministerial order, the cannabis value chain will have specific roles with up to eight licenses and permits required.
Types of licenses and certification include; cultivation license; import permit for seeds, genetic materials and other planting material; export permit for seeds, genetic materials and other planting materials.
Other licenses and permits include; cannabis and cannabis products processing license; cannabis and cannabis products import permit; cannabis and cannabis product export permit.
Other certifications and permits are finished cannabis and cannabis products registration certificate and research license.