Health Minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng has dismissed reports that she secretly issued licences to some companies to grow and export marijuana for medical purposes.
“I have seen social media posts alleging that I am in trouble over Cannabis and others saying I am dealing in cannabis. It’s unfortunate that some people always choose to circulate wrong information,” Dr Aceng said on Sunday via her Twitter handle. “I have not issued any authorisation for cannabis growing in Uganda. Cabinet is yet to consider the feasibility of this. Until then, I request the population to ignore the wrong media posts and treat it baseless and malicious.”
Dr Diana Atwine, the ministry’s permanent secretary, corroborated Dr Aceng’s stand in an interview with NTV Uganda on Sunday.
“They [Cabinet] discussed it. It was not resolved and they set up a sub-committee of Cabinet which made a report. It [report] is yet to be discussed in Cabinet and once that is done, we shall know what to do,” Dr Atwine said.
Since last year, there has been a scramble for cannabis growing in Uganda. By April, about 20 companies had expressed interest in the business.
Dr Aceng, said in April that she was stuck with 20 bids from companies and individuals competing to secure government clearance to grow and export marijuana.
Senior officials in the Ministry of Health said that they are stuck with the bids because of lack of regulations governing the undertaking.
The officials said dozens of local and foreign companies and individuals were inquiring about the application process and follow-ups.
The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act 2015 allows cultivation, production and exportation of medical marijuana and mandates the minister to issue written consent for medical marijuana.
However, Dr Aceng insisted in April that the applications will have to wait for the final decision of Cabinet.
She said the absence of regulations to guide on marijuana permits also complicated matters to the extent that the Health ministry and Cabinet did not know how to proceed.
The delay culminated in some companies to put pressure on Dr Aceng inquiring what’s going on.
Some companies accused her of creating a monopoly.
The government has already licensed Industrial Hemp (U) Ltd to grow and export medical marijuana. The company is currently working together with Pharma Limited, one of the biggest Israeli cannabis firm on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.
The companies have invested $360m (about Shs1.3 trillion) and established marijuana farms in Hima, Kasese District.
1. Industrial Hemp (U) Ltd
2. Together Pharma Ltd
Applied pending licence
3. Natgro Phama (U) Ltd
4. Medraw (U) SMC Ltd
5. Urban Properties (U) Ltd
6. Prime Ranchers
7. Silver Seeds (U) Ltd
8. Dave and Dave Group
9. Seven Blades
10. Cannops Africa
11. Quest Worths International Group
12. Premier Hemp
13.Sativa Agro-tech Ltd
14. Zeus Agro Ltd
15. Owesia U Ltd