Known for its booming cannabis tourism industry and high-quality marijuana, Malawi is quickly becoming the go-to destination for cannabis enthusiasts and businesses.
Malawi was one of the first African countries to legalize medical marijuana and is one of the largest producers of cannabis. Currently, cannabis is legalized for cultivation and processing for industrial and medicinal uses, however, Malawi’s parliament has not decriminalized it for recreational use yet. Getting a Cannabis License in Malawi is a fairly uncomplicated process and we’re here to guide you every step of the way. Continue reading for a comprehensive guide to help you become a licensed cannabis producer in Malawi.
Malawi has the potential to become one of the worlds leading cannabis producers and in this culturally diverse southeastern African country, there is a great opportunity for many Cannabis Entrepreneurs.
Cannabis is also known as Chamba in Malawi and it’s particularly popular for being one of the finest Sativa strains in Africa known as Malawi Gold. Malawi has seen a profound increase in tourism and investment thanks to Cannabis and its recent legalization.
The Cannabis Industry in Malawi
The country’s government has been working to develop the medical cannabis industry since 2016 when it passed the Medicines and Allied Substances Act and the Cannabis Regulation Act 2020. Under this law, Malawi permits registered companies to grow and distribute medical marijuana products with a license from the Ministry of Health.
Malawi performs well in the international market due to its quality of cannabis. Their main market has always been South Africa passing the borders through Mozambique and Zimbabwe, as well as more recently Kenya, Tanzania, and many other locales.
In 2020, the country’s Cannabis Regulatory Authority (CRA) was formulated to regulate the Cannabis Industry as provided for in the Cannabis Regulation Act 2020. The CRA is mandated to license all Cannabis related activities including, but not limited to, cultivation, processing, distribution, storage, exportation, importation, research, laboratory tests, transportation, and medical use of Cannabis.
It’s important to note that the Cannabis Regulation Act 2020 only promotes the production of Cannabis for medicinal, industrial, and scientific use. It does not in any way advocate, authorize, promote or accept, legally or socially, the use of cannabis for recreational purposes.
Shortly after the implementation of the Cannabis Act, the CRA received an overwhelming response of applications. Even though Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world, it has been a major tobacco producer for decades. Over 70% of the nation’s export income comes from tobacco but many farmers are switching to cannabis. With dwindling returns from tobacco over the past decade and an ideal climate for cultivating cannabis, the industry is seeing a real boost.
The tourism industry has also seen a real boost from Cannabis and although illegal, the plant grows wild in many areas, making it hard to control. Many tourists purchase Cannabis and smoke in the privacy of their hotel rooms or homes. The Nkhotakota District is renowned for producing the best marijuana.
Obtaining a Cannabis License in Malawi
An application for a Cannabis License in Malawi can be made to the Director General of the Cannabis Regulatory Authority in Lilongwe, Malawi. Applications can only be made by using a prescribed form obtained from the CRA offices. Inquiries may also be sent via post. Licenses or permits will only be prescribed to a qualifying legal person in respect of the activity they are licensed to undertake under the Cannabis Regulation Act 2020. Only the following legal entities may stand a chance to be awarded a license, provided they have met all the other requirements:
- Farmer Organizations;
- Corporate Companies;
- Corporate Partnerships.
The Cannabis law promotes farmer participation in the value chain through registered groups and not individual farming. All entities with the intent to participate in Cannabis Production and Marketing are required to meet a number of eligibility requirements.
Farmer Organization Requirements
Farmer organizations need to:
- Have a formal registration of the grouping;
- Compose of a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 100 farmers;
- Possess a minimum land size of 5 hectares within 5 kilometers radius from the most centrally located farm with a maximum of 10 fragmented pieces;
- Submit a Police Clearance Certificate for the Board of Directors or senior management of the farmer organization;
- Submit an off-taker agreement if the organization will not be processing its own Cannabis;
- Submit a cannabis business plan for the Cannabis enterprise;
- Present GPS coordinates, the size of land in hectares, and the physical address of the plots.
Formal Partnership Requirements
Formal partnerships need to:
- Possess a legal agreement of their partnership;
- Possess a minimum unfragmented land size of 5 hectares;
- Submit a Police Clearance Certificate of the partners;
- Submit an off-taker agreement, if the partnership will not process its own Cannabis;
- Present GPS coordinates, size of land in hectares, and the physical address of the plot;
- Submit a comprehensive business plan for the Cannabis enterprise.
Corporate Companies Requirements
Corporate companies need to:
- Show proof of incorporation in Malawi;
- Possess a minimum land size of 5 hectares that is not fragmented;
- Submit a Police Clearance Certificate for the Board of Directors;
- Submit an off-taker agreement, if the company will not process its own Cannabis;
- Submit title deeds and GPS coordinates;
- Submit a comprehensive business plan for the Cannabis enterprise.
There are some security requirements depending on whether the cannabis is to be grown for medicinal or industrial purposes. The Cannabis regulations stipulate security plans that are applicable to industrial hemp and medicinal cannabis.
For those interested in applying for an industrial hemp license, a security plan will need to be developed which prevents access to the industrial hemp premises by any unauthorized persons. A natural or physical barrier needs to be established around the entire farm.
Applicants interested in a medicinal cannabis license will be required to develop a security plan which prevents access by an unauthorized person to the premises by:
- Establishing physical barriers which will secure perimeter access to all points of entry by setting up a fence around the ground that is at least two meters high and secured by a gate.
- Locating the field at least three kilometers from public institutions and places such as hospitals, schools, and markets, unless cultivation is done in a greenhouse surrounded by a barrier.
License Fees & Validity Periods
The fees and charges for cannabis licenses in Malawi are dependent on the type of Cannabis enterprise. Licenses are awarded for each activity i.e. cultivation, processing, storage, and distribution. Permits are given for exportation, importation, research, and laboratory tests.
Licenses, including the research and laboratory test permits, are valid for a period of twelve months after which they may be renewed for another period, as prescribed by the registrar. Import and export permits are valid for a period not exceeding four months.
These are the fees as follows:
Costs of an Industrial Hemp License in Malawi
There is a non-refundable processing fee of $500 and is charged for each license being applied for. All payments must be made in US dollars or the equivalent in Malawi Kwacha.
Costs of a Medicinal Cannabis License in Malawi
There is a non-refundable processing fee of $1,000 and is charged for each license being applied for. All payments must be made in US dollars or the equivalent in Malawi Kwacha.
Inspection, Sampling, and Testing
Upon issuance of a license or permit, the Cannabis Regulatory Authority shall conduct regular inspections and samples shall be taken for the purpose of testing or analysis to check compliance with the Cannabis Regulation Act 2020 for all licensed activities.
Offenses and Penalties
Any person found cultivating, processing, storing, distributing, researching, testing, exporting, importing, and using cannabis in contravention of the Cannabis Regulation Act 2020 shall be committing an offense and will, on conviction, be liable to the penalties as stipulated in the Act.
Closing Thoughts on Getting a Cannabis License in Malawi
Malawi is a great market to enter for producing cannabis today. With a straightforward application process and perfect climate, it is quickly becoming one of the largest cannabis producers in Southern Africa. While fees may be on the more expensive side, it ensures quality producers are entering the market and still provides ample opportunities for small farmers and farming organizations.
If you are interested in applying for a cannabis cultivation license in Malawi, get in touch will our expert team at GrowerIQ and we will be able to guide you through the process.
The mere fact that you found your way to this article is remarkable, we’re sure that you’re an ambitious grower. The oppourtunity in international trade does not end here. We have written guides on getting your cannabis license for more countries, such as Macedonia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Peru, Argentina, St. Vincent, and South Africa. Check out our guides over here: How to get a Cannabis License in Macedonia, How to Get a Cannabis License in Zimbabwe, Cannabis License Zambia, How to get a Cannabis License in Peru, Cannabis License in Argentina, How to Get a Cannabis License in St. Vincent, and How to get a Cannabis License in South Africa.
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