With Lesotho taking steps toward cannabis legalization, Medicine Man Technologies has been thrilled to see progress expand to lesser-known corners of the globe like this small country in Africa. According to recent news reports, the country’s government has granted medical cannabis licenses to a South African company, Verve Dynamics, and a Lesotho-based Pharmaceutical Development Company (PDC), which has since been acquired by Corix Bioscience based in California.
This somewhat surprising move makes Lesotho the first African country to explore the revenue potential of allowing legal cannabis businesses to operate within its borders.
Get to Know Lesotho, the Kingdom in the Sky
Completely encircled by South Africa, Lesotho is an entirely mountainous country with a total land mass of just 11,600 square miles. To put that in perspective, Colorado is over 104,000 square miles.
While Lesotho’s 2 million citizens are officially prohibited from selling and possessing cannabis, native tribes have been growing it for medicinal purposes and cultivating hemp for centuries. Today, cannabis enjoys an unspoken, decriminalized status. Growing and exporting cannabis has even become part of the country’s economy with a lack of criminal prosecution enabling Lesotho’s many cannabis farmers to become primary suppliers for black market cannabis in South Africa, even as far as Europe. Of course, such a lenient stance has garnered the disapproval of both South Africa and the United Nations.
Lesotho Taking Steps Toward Cannabis Legalization
While efforts to legalize or regulate cannabis in Lesotho are yet to be made, the news of licenses being issued certainly point to the possibility of reform. For Verve Dynamics, which specializes in researching, developing and manufacturing indigenous plant extractions and nutraceutical ingredients, being one of the first in line for a commercial license will give them the ability to grow, manufacture, supply, and export medical cannabis products from Lesotho.
According to Richard Davies, the managing director of Verve Dynamics, acquiring a license was no easy feat. He had this to say, “We underwent an intensive six-month due diligence, part of which included a site visit to our South African facility by various departments of government including health, trade and industry, tourism and agriculture and the Lesotho police.”
Once Verve successfully completed this rigorous process, the company released this statement, “The Government’s decision to move forward with this historic decision means that Lesotho will play a significant role in developing this industry, both locally and internationally, as well as establishing itself as a pioneer on the African continent with regards to state of the art extraction equipment.”
Previously, Lesotho had awarded a commercial license to a local business, Pharmaceutical Development Company, giving them the ability to cultivate, as well as import and export cannabis in various formats. Now that it’s been acquired by Corix Bioscience, a company known for its research and development of cannabidiol products and treatments, even California has a stake in what happens next in Africa.
In regards to this acquisition, Michael Ogburn, Corix Bioscience CEO, said, “This is a defining moment for our company. It allows us to grow and manufacture cannabis in Lesotho and distribute our products to dozens of other countries. It will allow us to accelerate our growth very quickly.”
So, What’s Next for Cannabis in Lesotho?
Despite the new licenses being granted and Lesotho taking steps toward cannabis legalization, it still remains to be seen whether laws will be developed and implemented to make medicinal or recreational cannabis available to its citizens. At Medicine Man Technologies, we hope that these are just the first steps and that a next phase will be launched to establish an internal and legal cannabis system. For now, it seems that existing farms will remain unaffected and will continue with illicit business as usual.
Bottom line, Lesotho’s pioneering spirit has catapulted them to the forefront of a burgeoning African market. While they may be a small country, they will likely be a big player as the push for legalization continues its global march. We’ll be sure to provide you with updates.
Want to start your own legal enterprise here in the U.S. or anywhere in the world? Simply get in touch for private consulting as well as help with licensing, cultivating, dispensary operations and more.