Zambia has legalised the production and export of cannabis for economic and medicinal purposes.

The approval for the export of cannabis was granted at a special cabinet meeting, spokesperson for the government, Dora Siliya, said in a statement, SABC reports.

It was not clear from the statement if the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes in Zambia had been legalised.

The Southern African country joins a host of nations that have legalised or are considering legalising cannabis to some degree, as attitudes towards the drug slowly change and investments in its medical benefits grow.

Zambia’s motivation is rooted in a hefty fiscal deficit and growing debt burden.

Growth in external debt to $10.5bn at the end of 2018 from $8.74bn a year earlier has raised fears the country is headed for a debt crisis.

Zambia cut its 2019 growth forecast in September because bad weather had hit crop production and electricity generation while the International Monetary Fund has said growth is likely to remain subdued over the medium term.

Zambian opposition Green Party President, Peter Sinkamba, who has been advocating the export of cannabis since 2013, said the move could earn Zambia up to $36bn annually.

“Depending on how properly this is done, this could just change the face of Zambia’s economy,” Sinkamba told Reuters.


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