The government has set strict rules for individuals and companies seeking to grow or export marijuana for medical purposes to present minimum capital of $5m (Shs18.3b) and a bank guarantee of Shs4b.
Investors are also required to present a tax clearance certificate from the Uganda Revenue Authority, lists of employees and their job descriptions, a valid trading license, evidence of value addition to cannabis and audited accounts.
The marijuana farms/sites must not be located near schools, hospitals, and residential areas and in case of any associates/business partners, the details must be disclosed to the government, including site designs, a robust security system with access control systems and intrusion systems in place.
Cabinet is expected to convene to discuss and approve the list of 15 guidelines for medical marijuana growing in the country before Parliament is briefed on the matter.
Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng is expected to present the new guidelines and a confidential list of more than 100 companies and individuals seeking government permission to grow and export cannabis for medical purposes.
The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 2015, allows the cultivation, production, and exportation of medical marijuana and mandates the Health minister to issue written consent for medical marijuana. However, Dr. Aceng has since April last year kept the companies guessing due to absence of guidelines for the new industry.
Growing of cannabis for treating severe medical conditions such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, and other neurological conditions is already happening in Uganda.
Industrial Hemp (U) Ltd is currently working with Pharma Limited, one of the biggest Israeli cannabis firms, in growing marijuana for medical purposes in Uganda. They have invested $360m (about Shs1.3 trillion) in Hima, Kasese. The company is expected to export medical marijuana from Uganda in March.
More than 100 companies- foreign and local – have positioned themselves to grow and export marijuana in Uganda. The government has formed a committee chaired by the Internal Affairs minister, Gen Jeje Odongo, to screen the applicants with a view to kicking out “speculators” and recommending “serious companies and individuals” for medical marijuana licenses.