export cannabis
You should export it. Photo: m a n u e l

You should export it. Photo: m a n u e l

With many countries struck by poverty, Sri Lanka is showing one way to cope: it will export cannabis. This is more of a possibility now that so many countries and US states permit it, although Sri Lanka doesn’t. Sri Lanka will open its first official cannabis farm.

On Wednesday September 13 2017, the country’s health minister, Rajitha Senaratne, spoke of the 100-acre farm located at Ingiriya, a little less than 40 miles from the capital of Colombo. It would be capable of producing over 25 tons a year and protected by the military.

Senaratne told reporters that traditional doctors employed cannabis, a “vital ingredient,” but experienced difficulty in obtaining it. These doctors rely on drugs seized by police, which is four or five years old by the time they get their hands on it and less effective. Cannabis is also used by pharmaceutical companies. The remainder of the crop would be exported.

Ghana, meanwhile, permits production but not use of cannabis, although it has in the past been ranked by the United Nations as the world’s leading consumer of it, with people getting through five times the world average; 21 percent of people use it. In Ghana, the drug is known as “wee.” A licence from the Ministry of Health is required to produce it, but for those who have one, it is one of the most profitable crops, aided by its weather-resistance. Farmers sans licence plant it among cassava, cocoa or okra.

Professor Alex Dodoo, executive director of the Ghana Standards Authority, recently told Ghana’s parliament’s Public Account Committee that it would be wise to export cannabis officially, whereupon the country “will gain immensely …” It already is exported illegally in at least half of cases. In 2012, UK customs officers seized the largest ever batch of cannabis – around 1.5 tons, worth £4.3 million – at Heathrow. It was present in three freight containers.

Ghana is one of Africa’s leading producers of cannabis, although it’s far behind Seth Effrika and Morocco. Cannabis produced there can be highly potent.

Although it’s hardly strapped for cash, there has been talk to the effect that Strilya would export cannabis, with one agronomist commenting, “This is the Holy Grail. There’s an absolutely huge export market.” While cannabis is usually grown indoors under artificial lights, in Strilya, there’s plenty of sunlight, which is more effective. The company MGC Pharmaceuticals is ready to go.

In 2016, Israel’s Agriculture Minister, Uri Ariel, announced that the country will export cannabis. Israel is regarded as a leader in medical marijuana research. Medical usage was already legal but recreational usage was only legalised in March 2017.

Kibbutzim could well be at the forefront. Their revenues have been declining since the 1980s, driving away residents. Now there is likely to be what Eilon Bdil, business manager of Kibbutz Elifaz in Ngev in southern Israel, termed a “cannabis gold rush.” This kibbutz already grows about 10 tons of the drug a year. Dozens have applied for licences to grow it.

“I’ve only got a little bit of cannabis,” he declared – but he turned out to have £10,000 of drugs

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