BY BUSINESS REPORTER
Zimbabwe can rake in US$19 million in tax revenues and create between 60 000 and 90 000 jobs over a five year period from the production of medical cannabis and industrial hemp, a new report says.
According to research by New Frontier Data titled Hemp Cultivation in Africa: Zimbabwe Case Study 2019 released recently, the country stands to benefit economically from regulated cultivation of cannabis.
“Although Zimbabwe has deployed a limited medical cannabis programme, the country is looking closely at how to create a more robust and expansive regulated system,” the report says.
“Following the full implementation and activation of a regulated cannabis market, both taxes and employment would increase.”
New Frontier Data estimated that combined tax revenues from domestic sales and exports over a five-year period could reach nearly $19 million while generating between 60,000 and 90,000 jobs.
“Successful deployment of a regulated system will depend upon many factors, primarily how to maximise economic and medical benefits to Zimbabweans without stifling the nascent industry’s growth and development,” it added.
“By leveraging experience and expertise from other markets, Zimbabwe may avoid many implementation issues encountered by other countries.
“Zimbabwe’s market represents tremendous potential, particularly if maximising first-mover advantages while other countries debate the formulation of policy.”
Cannabis offers potential to create jobs, reduce costs, and provide opportunities to Zimbabweans for years to come, it added.
Zimbabwe last year became the second African country to legalise the production of cannabis for medical and scientific purposes, but a handful of licenses have been granted.
“By establishing its programme, and expanding it to include industrial hemp and allow for legal exports, Zimbabwe can reduce healthcare costs while generating an estimated $19.5 million in tax revenues,” the New Frontier Data report added.
The researchers said Africa’s overall market accounted for US$37.3 billion of the US344.4 billion global cannabis market in 2018, which was a combination of legal and illicit sectors.
“ Zimbabwe’s population of 16.5 million includes 1.1 million cannabis consumers annually, with an estimated current cannabis consumer spending market value of US$200.1 million,” the report added.
In October, the Zimbabwe Industrial Hemp Trust sowed six varieties of industrial cannabis, which became the country’s first authorised hemp crop.
Industrial hemp is a variety of cannabis that is grown for industrial uses in textiles, paper, rope and edible seeds.