Government has halted the licence issued to an Israel firm to grow marijuana in Uganda for being issued through the backdoor, the State Minister for Investment, Evelyn Anite has revealed.
In an unprecedented move, Uganda Investment Authority on March 18, 2019 approved a licence to Together Pharma, an Israel firm to start growing Marijuana in Uganda.
However, in response to a question from the Nile Post, Anite said despite the issue being discussed by cabinet, the licence was approved too early.
“Cabinet tasked the Ministry of health to do a research and give a report on the matter in two months ending next month,”Anite said on Wednesday.
“We have put the licence on halt as we wait for final position by cabinet on growing the cannabis. The discussion is on and we are waiting for the minister of health.”
The investment minister explained that the issue came up after four different investors brought proposals to government to get licence to grow cannabis for medicinal purposes, noting that cabinet had to discuss it.
She noted that when it was brought to cabinet, a paper was deferred with instructions to the health minister to do more research about the health benefits for cannabis and other legal provisions before a decision is taken.
“Because it is not written in black and white, we have to do research on how to regulate and control cannabis and the minister is supposed to return to cabinet on May 15.”
“When I learnt that it had been done behind my back, I made phone calls for halting the licence until cabinet disposes of this matter and proper regulation is put in place,”Anite noted.
Investment Authority defends licence
The acting Uganda Investment Authority Executive Director, Lawrence Byensi defended the decision to licence the Israel Company, saying it was done after clearance from other government departments.
“This was after a due process after other agencies responsible for the due diligence requirements to be fulfilled forwarded us after clearing it. The critical player was the National Drug Authority that cleared the company,”Byensi said.
He noted that the health ministry, the Inspector General of Police, agriculture ministry, also cleared the company before forwarding the same to the Uganda Investment Authority.
“After them giving a no objection, there was going to be no basis for us to stop licensing this particular investment,” the UIA acting Executive Director said.
He however noted that the company was licenced to export cannabis for medical purposes and not consumption locally.
Byensi explained that medical cannabis is accepted worldwide and is not strange to Uganda.
“There are standards for it and what we should be demanding as Ugandans is whether they(standards) are being followed by the investor. We should put to task NDA and other agencies to ensure they process from growing, processing and exporting to the dot.”