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Govt introduces new medical cannabis laws

Bereng Mpaki

HEALTH Minister Nkaku Kabi on Friday tabled new medical cannabis regulations before parliament in a bid to strengthen the sector’s regulation.

Mr Kabi said the Drugs of Abuse (Cannabis) Regulations, 2019 seek to plug the gaps that were left in the development of the 2018 regulations.

The new 2019 regulations were published on 20 December 2019 and are therefore already in operation.

Mr Kabi told the Sunday Express that the new regulations allow for out-door cultivation of medical cannabis, which is suitable for production of the hemp cannabis strain.

“The new regulations are amending the 2018 regulations which had some gaps,” Mr Kabi said.

“For instance, the 2018 regulations did not allow for outdoor cultivation of medical cannabis, but the new ones allow that. This will be suitable for hemp production, which will help Lesotho increase its cannabis product range since hemp can be used for production of textile material among other things.”

The new regulations also tighten the security around outdoor production of medical cannabis due to danger that it poses when used without prescription.

“Where an operator is licensed to cultivate outdoor cannabis, he is restricted to cultivate strains that have a THC content of below one percent and he shall observe and ensure the following: that the product is used to produce CBD isolate; only feminised seeds are used; a male plant is destroyed or eradicated; and a seed is obtained from a registered seed supplier and is accompanied by a certificate of analysis.”

The new regulations also prescribe tighter security measures to minimise contamination of the plants and pollution of the environment.

“An operator shall be granted a licence to cultivate in accordance with the terms and conditions…and he shall ensure that the process and procedure of cultivation a cannabis plant is not and has no prospects of affecting the health, safety or general welfare of a person residing at, near or around the cultivation area or site caused by creation of dust, glare, heat, noise, noxious gases, odour, smoke, traffic or vibrations thorough the use of hazardous materials, processes, products, waste or in any other harmful manner…

“An operator shall not cultivate cannabis in an area within a five -kilometre radius of a public school, park, library, and an alcoholism or drug abuse recovery or treatment centre.”

The minister said the new subordinate law has increased the size of the surface area for cultivation of medical cannabis.

The regulations do not however, reflect the minister’s initial plan of increasing the licence fees to curb the influx of applications. They remain unchanged.

The application fee for a cultivation licence costs M150 000; also M150 000 for a manufacturing license; M100 000 for a testing licence; M500 000 for an operator licence; M50 000 for a research licence; M50 000 for a transportation licence; M10 000 for a licence storage; and M50 000 for a license for supply.

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Sunday Express

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