Colombo, Aug 2 : Sri Lanka is eyeing cannabis cultivation after relaxing regulations to collect much needed forex and come out of the worst-ever economic crisis.
Disclosing plans of a pilot project, State Minister for Tourism Diana Gamage told the media that Sri Lanka with 22 varieties of cannabis has the potential to become a world leader in the industry.
“There are 22 varieties of cannabis in Sri Lanka and numerous numbers of medicinal products that can be derived from hemp, presenting a significant opportunity for Sri Lanka to capitalize on its cultivation and exports,” the Minister said.
She described that by promoting responsible and informed discussions about cannabis, focusing on its various uses beyond intoxication, and implementing appropriate regulations, Sri Lanka can tap into the enormous economic opportunities offered by this multi-billion dollar industry.
“Hemp cultivation is gaining prominence globally, and Sri Lanka has the potential to become a leader in this industry. There are lucrative investment prospects in producing medicines from hemp, which can yield substantial economic benefits for the country. A 10-acre hemp plantation alone has the potential to generate around $200 million.”
While inviting investors, the State Minister also said that the responsibility of manufacturing and exporting would be in the hands of investors but not by the government.
“Whoever who invests it is their baby. We are getting money from them it is not our duty to sell it. It is their duty to make the money and once invested it is the investors who are going to getting it to the market.
“We are giving them the facilities and obviously we need to have the labs, processing centre and research centres everything in one place which is a pilot project,” Gamage added.
While presenting the Budget for 2024 in November last year, President Ranil Wickremesinghe had announced appointing an expert committee to examine on producing cannabis for exportation.
Gamage had earlier promised to bring in investment nearly $2 billion.
However according to island nation’s law, cannabis is illegal and possession and sale could be charged with fines and imprisonment.
But the drug is illegally available and used extensively.
According to latest dataof the National Dangerous Drugs Control Board (NDDCB), cannabis had been the most commonly used illicit drug in Sri Lanka, with over 300,000 users.
The Police Narcotics Bureau recorded that possession of cannabis and Kerala cannabis were the second and third highest percentages of drug-related arrests, after heroin.
However for centuries, cannabis has been used for traditional Ayurvedic medicine and medical practitioners are allowed to use it to prepare medicines with the permission from the Ayurvedic Drugs Corporation.
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