New Additions to the African Green Rush


In the last few years, the trend in Africa has been to legalize cannabis for medical purposes and open international cannabis export industries. The most recent countries to join the African green rush are Uganda, Rwanda, Ghana, and hopefully Morocco.

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Lesotho and the start of the African green rush

The African green rush started with Lesotho in 2017, when the government legalized the cultivation and production of medical cannabis for exportation, the first in Africa to do so. The first companies to jump on the opportunity were Canadian, with several licenses given out to Canadian companies by 2018.

Lesotho is a poor African country which is enclaved in South Africa. About 80% subsist on farming, however, draughts and mountainous areas have made it hard to grow many crops. Cannabis is not one of them, which makes it preferable for farming. The country also generates revenue off of livestock, diamond mining, and water. As of 2017, approximately 57% were living under the poverty line, with half the population unemployed. HIV is a huge problem in the small country, with somewhere in the neighborhood of 23% being infected.

In the very beginning, Lesotho gave out licenses for free which enabled local farmers to obtain them. It didn’t take long for the price of licensing to go up to $37,000, essentially ruling out local participation. Fast-forward to August 2020 and it’s not the smooth operation that had been hoped for. There has been questioning into how the licenses have been distributed, with Lesotho’s king Letsie III warning the Ministry of Health about the industry being threatened by corruption. One license holder even gave up on the industry after not being able to secure investors because of Lesotho’s poor regulation.

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Beth Edmonds