Tiny Lesotho looks to become African staging ground for medical marijuana businesses

A landlocked nation in southern Africa is on the cusp of opening major medical cannabis opportunities both domestically and internationally, provided government and businesses overcome near-term obstacles.

The opportunity for Lesotho’s economy to become a supplier of medical cannabis and ancillary services to other countries in Africa where medical cannabis laws are in the works – such as Ghana, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Swaziland – is “transformative,” industry officials said.

Being the first country in Africa to regulate medical cannabis has already put Lesotho on the map for international investors.

A little-known law – the 2008 Drugs of Abuse Act – set the stage for the MMJ industry in Lesotho.

But it wasn’t until the last couple of years that businesses started moving into the space.

One such company is Seattle-based Rhizo Sciences, which is a large player in Lesotho through its stake in local licensed producer Medi Kingdom.

Dallas McMillan, Rhizo’s president and co-founder, said Lesotho’s ideal climate, friendly investment environment and ample water, power and skilled workforce make it an attractive location for large-scale cannabis production.

But Nathan Emery, co-founder of Johannesburg-based BioAfrica, an extraction equipment producer, believes Lesotho still has work to do before it becomes a well-oiled market for MMJ businesses.

If it can address the remaining issues, Emery said, Lesotho will be able to act as a staging ground for companies to enter regional markets that offer significantly more potential than the country of 2.2 million people.

“The bigger picture is that South Africa is opening up, and some others,” he said.

New regulations in the works 

Updated regulations are currently being put into a draft bill tentatively named the Drugs of Abuse (Cannabis) Regulations, Marijuana Business Daily has learned.

After the bill is ready, it will be open to public comment and then go to a parliamentary

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