Legalizing of Medical Marijuana in Rwanda

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Marijuana also is known as cannabis is dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds from cannabis Sativa or cannabis indica plant. It is mostly used as a psychotropic drug in the United States. According to Monitoring the Future Survey (2019), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found continuing declines in the prescription of opioid misuse, tobacco cigarettes, and alcohol. The survey shows past years vaping marijuana has more than just doubled. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), continued legalization of marijuana for medical use or adult recreational use in a growing number of countries affect the theory.

In the modern world, marijuana has come in handy in the economic, health, and medical sector especially in the United States, Canada, and Europe. In the United States, medical marijuana has been used as pain control. It is effective for chronic pain mostly for the elderly. Harvard Health Publishing, Peter Grinspoon MD (2018), states that medical marijuana can be used to ease multiple sclerosis and nerve pain, patients claim that it easily allows them to return to their normal schedule. It is also used as a muscle relaxant, to manage nausea, treat glaucoma as well as helping in weight loss. On Monday, 12th October 2020, Rwanda’s government legalized the growth of medical marijuana in the country and the exportation of cannabis. But it remains illegal in the country to be used as a medical stimulant or for recreational purposes.

According to The East African article by Ivan R. Mugisha (2020), Rwanda’s government is targeting to grow its exports from the growth of marijuana, the exports are currently valued at $ 345 billion, showed by analysts News Frontier Data. Rwanda’s Minister of Health, Dr. Daniel Nagamije said the drug is still prohibited to be used in the country. Doctors in Rwanda have been warned against the prescription of marijuana for medicine. If any doctor is found breaking that rule he or she will be jailed for two years and an additional fine of Rwf 3 million according to Article 266 of the Penal Code. Any citizen found using narcotics in any way will also be jailed for two years while any drug dealer found selling marijuana will face not less than twenty years of imprisonment to lifetime and an additional fine of Rwf thirty million.

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“We have interested investors that we are going to work with for the next few days now that we have guidelines in place to see how Rwanda can contribute to medical research in the world,” said Rwanda Development Board (RDB) CEO, Clare Akamazi to MedicalXpress. “The United States, Canada, and the Europe Union (EU) are big markets that we are seeing buying the products.” The News-Times reported that the government is targeting export markets in the United States, Canada, and Europe. Rwanda’s government officials have made it clear that the legalization is only for financial benefits and nothing else and there is no intention of changing that law. Questions have arisen concerning allowing the use of medical marijuana. Dr. Daniel Nigamije suggested that there would be a possibility to allow the use of medical cannabis for medical purposes in the future.

According to an article on Marijuana Business Daily, Recreational Marijuana is in the ballot box of Arizona and New Jersey as of November 2020, with more than $ 6 billion in business opportunities, Jeff Smith (2020). “New York, Connecticut, Maryland, and New Mexico are ripe for 2021.” Said Steve Hawkins, executive director of the Washington DC. To legalize the recreational use of marijuana, South Africa and Lesotho are some of the countries that have legalized recreational and medical marijuana in 2018. Some countries like Israel, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi have already legalized medical marijuana. According to Grand View Research, international markets for legal marijuana are expected to reach up to $ 73.6 billion by 2027 and medical marijuana is projected to make more than two-thirds of $ 73.6 billion.

Even though the legalization of medical marijuana has a lot of benefits especially in the economic growth of countries, reducing the poverty gap, medical and health benefits, illegal use of marijuana has some negative impact on the society and on an addict’s health. Marijuana contains compounds that can affect someone’s mind and body, marijuana can also affect your mental health by leaving you feeling anxious, panicked, or afraid. It also makes the user feel “high” because it stimulates their brain to pleasure just like food