Judith Phiri, Business Reporter
THE Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) has given the greenlight for the use of hemp-based complementary medicines in the country, paving the way for medicinal cannabis industry in the country.
Zimbabwe became one of the first in Africa to legalise the production of medicinal cannabis in 2018, with 57 licences having been issued to date. According to MCAZ, licensed cannabis, hemp producers, manufacturers, importers, exporters and retail pharmacies are required to apply for registration before they could start distributing hemp products.
In a circular, MCAZ acting director-general Mr Richard Rukwata said they were receiving and assessing applications for approval for hemp-based cannabidiol (CBD) products as complementary medicines.
“The authority advises stakeholders that it will consider applications for approval of hemp-based cannabidiol (CBD) products as complementary medicines under the following conditions such as submission of an application for registration (dossier) in line with the guideline for submission of application for complementary medicines.
Submission of product samples and submission of certificates of analysis from an accredited laboratory specifying the quantities of the active moieties of cannabidiols and any traces of tetrahydrocannabinols as part of the information in the dossier,” said Mr Rukwata.
He said the authority required clearly specified indications and warning among other information as part of the product information in line with the complementary medicines guideline.
Mr Rukwata said there will be satisfactory inspection of manufacturing site by MCAZ inspectorate to ensure that the site complies with Good Manufacturing Practices, for the manufacture of complementary medicines.
The acting director-general said conditions for the certification include; “Payment of complementary medicine product application fees as gazetted. Any hemp-based CBD product applications that do not meet the criteria above may not be approved for distribution, and will be confiscated.”
Further, Mr Rukwata said sellers may be prosecuted for selling unapproved complementary medicines. Analysts have previously noted that Zimbabwe could be losing millions in potential foreign currency in cannabis exports after it emerged that only about 10 percent of licensed entities and individuals were operating. In 2020, the global cannabis extract market size was valued at US$8,3 billion and is projected to reach a revised size of US$22,6 billion by 2027.
Earlier this year in an online webinar on developing a vibrant cannabis industry in Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Industrial Hemp Trust (ZIHT) founder and chief executive officer (CEO), Dr Zorodzai Maroveke said with about 60 or plus medicinal cannabis licences having been issued, only about 10 percent of those were active.
Dr Maroveke said recreational cannabis use which involves using cannabis for personal enjoyment rather than for health purposes such as smoking, spiritual and traditional healing purposes was still illegal in Zimbabwe.