By:Staff WriterColombo (LNW): Marijuana or cannabis cultivation for exports is a multibillion-dollar industry, and across the United States and now Sri Lanka about to join the bandwagon , legal markets are popping up like weeds as more states seek out the tax revenue and jobs the cash crop brings, official sources said.
Medical and recreational marijuana sales are projected to reach US $33.6 billion by the end of the year, a trend largely driven by the opening of new adult-use markets,
The implementation of the proposal of cannabis cultivation for the sole purpose of exportation can attract investments amounting to$ 2 billion a drop of the vast see like foreign cannabis market within 2023 alone several senior state officials said.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe during his 2023 Budget Speech revealed that a committee of specialists will be appointed to investigate the possibility of cultivating cannabis for the sole purpose of exports.
Under this set up , the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka has received the approval from an expert committee to embark on a pilot project to cultivate cannabis within a BOI zone.
This was revealed by Investment Promotion State Minister Dilum Amunugama during a media briefing at the BOI headquarters.
The pilot project is to kick-off soon in the Katunayake zone and discussions are underway with investors and experts to finalize the pilot project.
“We have been authorized as the experts committee report is out. It’s a ‘Yes’. We have got the instructions to go ahead with the pilot project,” said Dilum Amunugama.
“The investors who are interested in the project will have to grow the cannabis and manufacture a product out of it, which will be the income for the country,” he stated.
The State Minister proceeded to say that the Cabinet would have to be briefed as to how the project is to be implemented.
Further Sri Lanka has drawn up laws to grow cannabis for medicinal purposes which will be presented for Cabinet approval soon, Minister for Indigenous medicine Sirira Jayakody said.
“Canabis comes under the Ayurveda (Indigenous Medicine) Act,” Minister Jayakody told reporters. “It is a subject coming under the Department of Ayurveda.
Cannabis was widely used in South Asia for centuries, though it caused concern among British civil servants in the Caribbean who had little knowledge of the plant, when Indian workers started working in plantations.
Cannabis was included in 1925 Geneva International Convention on Narcotics Control and India at the time opposed it being included saying it was used since time immemorial and questioned the practicality of a prohibition being enforced.
However the British delegate signed the convention which was mostly concerns with opium. Geneva conventions were partly due US pressure. US had one time prohibited alcohol triggering the birth of massive criminal mafias (bootleggers).
In 1893, the Indian Hemp and Drugs Commission had already gone into the issue at the behest of UK activist and recommended that it be taxed rather than banned. But many European countries have since legalized cannabis including for recreational use.