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Locals to get shares in marijuana firm

Bereng Mpaki

BASOTHO will get the chance to buy shares in Medigrow Lesotho after the medical marijuana firm indicated that it will begin selling shares to the public to raise capital.

Lesotho became the first African country to legalise the growing of medical marijuana in 2017 and Medigrow had already been licensed in 2016 to grow the plant.

Medical Marijuana refers to the use of the whole unprocessed marijuana plant, or the plant’s basic extracts, for the treatment of various ailments or conditions.

The more than 500 different chemicals contained in the marijuana plant offer a panacea for patients suffering from different medical conditions ranging from epileptic seizures, cancer, mental illnesses, nausea, pain, and inflammation.

And Medigrow, which has set up operations at Marakabei in the Maseru district, says it will empower locals by giving them up to 42 percent stake in the company.

Since 2016, the company has set up the production plant which includes the tunnels where the marijuana plant is cultivated as well as an extraction and packaging facility. It has also set up an administration block and living quarters for its staff.

The company is however, yet to commence commercial operations as parts of its plant are still under construction.

The Chief Executive Officer of Medigrow, Andre Bothma, said the company requires M900 million for full scale production. Mr Bothma said at least M200 million had been pumped into the project so far.

Some of the company’s investors include the Canadian firm, Supreme Cannabis, which has so far injected C$10 million (M90, 4 million) into the project.

Many locals, particularly growers of the illegal recreational marijuana, have called for inclusion in the production of medical marijuana which appears to have attracted large scale foreign investors.

And on Friday, Mr Bothma told media practitioners who toured his Marakabei facility they will soon announce an Initial Public Offering of shares, possibly in July when they plan to begin commercial production.

“We are planning to sell some of the company’s shares to the public so that the locals can start benefiting from the project,” Mr Bothma said.

Mr Bothma further indicated that they had rented ploughing fields for M18 000 from 66 landholders in the area and more land will be rented as the project expands.

Eight companies are said to have been have been awarded licences to produce medical marijuana in Lesotho.

The fledgling medical marijuana in Lesotho will face stiff competition from Zimbabwe which last month followed Lesotho’s example and legalised the growing of the medicinal plant.

The Zimbabwean regulations emphasise that locals will be given first preference in the awarding of licences and foreigners will only be awarded in exceptional circumstances as determined by that country’s minister of health.


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