Aren’t we losing out in all the marijuana farms burning
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Masembe Tambwe
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GreetingS. My apologies for my silence, I have been under the weather for the past fortnight, the storm isn’t over yet but I am pushing through. So much has been happening these past two weeks, it’s quite unbelievable.

There is a lot I can dwell on but I will stick to one, the drug war and specifically the marijuana one. Allow me if you can to take you back a few years back. In 2011 a UN Report was published that listed Tanzania as the second largest marijuana producer in Africa after South Africa.

This report I can only imagine must have been greeted suspicion and trashed as being a campaign to tarnish the good name of the country.

Whilst politicians and diplomats tried in earnest to downplay the report, law enforcers took the report seriously and intensified their patrols and it paid off. In 2014, police in Arusha impounded 175kg of the illicit drug which was en-route to Tanga. A year later still in Arusha, 12.4 tonnes of marijuana was confiscated, making it the biggest seizure of that year. Now back to the present times.

The illicit drug business in the country has been going on for years and along the way people have prospered in wealth and there are others who have suffered in health.

By the definition of the word illicit drugs, it covers many types but for a large majority of Tanzanians, marijuana is often included but this has now changed. Since the bold move by the Dar Es Salaam Regional Commissioner, Mr Paul Makonda to tussle with the drug sellers, buyers and users, so much has been witnessed. We have seen the streets drying up and a surge in the demand for methadone.

We have also seen marijuana being put back on the illicit drug list and large plantations being uprooted. While I applaud all these efforts, I can help but feel that there are opportunities being missed along the way.

I know for a fact that this burning of plantations story is closely being watched by brothers and sisters in Jamaica and there is talk starting rave parties adjacent to these farms such that when the herb is put up in flames, the party revellers just have to freely inhale.

At the moment is different parts of the world, there is a lot of research being conducted on cannabis oil that is squeezed from marijuana seeds. If we are and all indications show that we are, the second largest producer, imagine how much foreign exchange we can accrue if we ventured into cannabis oil extraction? As things stand at the moment, any marijuana planted has to be uprooted and burned.

I have no quarrels with that but I worry that we can have like a tanzanite species of the herb that is only found in this country and so I suggest that biologists should be engaged to collect samples before the herb is rendered extinct in the country.

Reading through this article, you may think that I am an advocate for the legalisation of marijuana.

Apparently I am not, I have seen firsthand what effect the drug can in someone’s brain and it isn’t pretty.

I am however a great supporter of research at the moment, there is a lot that is being done on cannabis oil and the treatment of cancer and if it is an avenue we can go into, then we should. As it stands, cancer and other diseases are ravaging our people mercilessly. Stay safe.

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