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Pakistan takes historic steps for legalization and production of medicinal marijuana

  • Science and Technology minister says industrial hemp will only be cultivated under government control
Published September 2, 2020

(Karachi) In a landmark move, the government has decided to legalize cultivation and production of medicinal marijuana in three districts of Sindh, Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

The cabinet has also approved the first license for the Science and Technology Ministry and the Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR) for industrial and medical use of hemp.

As per details, Prime Minister Imran Khan had directed the Anti-Narcotics Control that marijuana could be used for medicinal and trade purposes and steps should be taken in this regard. Acting on PM's directives, the Anti-Narcotics Control moved a summary to the cabinet which was approved.

As part of the summary, the crop will be grown legally in three areas that include an 18 Kanal land near Murree Expressway, 10 acre land in Haripur University, K-P and four acre land in Mirpur Sakro, Sindh.

Special security arrangements will also be in place in areas where cannabis would be grown to stop its misuse. Similarly, medicine produced from hemp will also be exported to other countries to generate revenue while amendments will also be carried out in Export Policy Order 2006.

Only government allowed to cultivate hemp

Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry has clarified that industrial hemp will only be cultivated under government control. He added that no other addictive substance apart from medicinal marijuana will be grown.

"Industrial hemp plant contains a compound called cannabidiol, which can play a very important role in medical therapies meant to mitigate severe and chronic pain," he said.

Fawad highlighted that several countries including China and Canada are cultivating marijuana on tens of thousands of acres. "The plant's seed is used to make hemp oil, the leaf is used in medicines, while the stem is used to make fibre that could one day replace cotton in the textile industry," he stated.

Landmark decision

Earlier, taking to twitter handle Fawad Chaudhry termed government's initiative as a "landmark decision" which will allow Pakistan access to billions of dollar cannabidiol market. He stated that the production of industrial hemp by the government could result in a $1 billion market for Pakistan.

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is derived from cannabis plants, but does not cause users to get high. It focused on young patients with Dravet syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy. It is grown specifically for the industrial uses of its derived products.

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