By Emily Ledger
The East African country of Rwanda has officially legalised the cultivation, processing, and sale of medical cannabis for both exportation and domestic use. The new legal order places the country one step closer to joining the ever-growing multi-billion-dollar global cannabis industry.
The medical cannabis legalisation order has been signed by the Minister of Health, Daniel Ngamije, and the Minister of Justice, Johnston Busingye. However, the law clarifies that the use, cultivation, and sale of recreational cannabis will continue to be prohibited with strict penalties remaining in place.
Ministerial Order No 003/MoH/2021 of 25/06/2021 states that “any investor or person who is committed to [performing] any activity of cultivation, processing, importation, export and use of Cannabis and Cannabis products, for medical or research purposes” is eligible to do so.
Under the new legislation, there will be a total of eight potential license categories, which will be valid for five years. Each of these licenses may be suspended if the license holder does not comply with the rules. Non-compliance with the regulations under each license will result in an administrative fine of between Rwf 1 million and not more than Rwf 50 million (approximately US $1015-$50,787). This fine can be doubled in the case of a repeat offence.
Furthermore, license holders will be required to introduce high-level security to their proposed medical cannabis facilities, including employing a licensed private security service company to secure the facility 24 hours a day.
Rwanda will become the latest country on the African continent to establish a legal medical cannabis market, following behind the likes of Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Morocco, and Uganda.