The African country of Malawi has become the latest to legalize cannabis for certain uses, according to an AP News report.
The country has been seeking an alternative to tobacco amid anti-smoking campaigns, the news outlet reported, and its Parliament passed legislation at the end of February to legalize cannabis cultivation for medical and industrial uses, although recreational use remains illegal.
The new law creates the Cannabis Regulatory Authority, a new regulatory body that will grant licenses to cultivate, process, store, sell, export and distribute cannabis, according to AP News. Licenses will also be issued to firms and institutions that wish to conduct cannabis research.
Cultivating, processing or distributing cannabis illegally will be punishable by up to 25 years in prison and a $70,000 fine under the new law, the news outlet reported.
Malawi allowed two firms to conduct research trials on hemp for industrial and medical uses in 2013, according to AP News, and the Malawi Hemp Association launched to work alongside government officials to create legislation and a regulatory framework for the industry.
Zambia, Lesotho and Zimbabwe have also legalized some form of cannabis, AP News reported, and South Africa’s finance minister has proposed legalizing all forms of cannabis to boost the country’s economy.