Green Party president Peter Sinkamba says the Health Ministry’s refusal to issue licenses to individuals wishing to trade in medicinal marijuana confirms that there is corruption in the procurement of medical supplies in the country.
And Sinkamba wondered why the Ministry of Health is content with importing medicine produced from marijuana when the country had the capacity to grow the herb.
The ministry of health has said that it will not issue licenses to companies desiring to grow medicinal marijuana because it already has a variety effective drugs.
This was despite Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo’s statement in parliament that the ministry of health would issue licenses to interested marijuana growers.
Reacting the position by the Ministry of Health, Sinkamba said the statement from Permanent Secretary Dr Kennedy Malama was an insult to Parliament and its members who enact laws.
“The fact that we have been importing medicine which are expensive does not mean that we can not take advantage of the local market which might even be cheaper, because if you have a strategy to start manufacturing those drugs locally, the argument to say we already have these drugs is very, very myopic. So we take strong exception to that statement by the Ministry of Health where they are telling us that its okay to be importing medicines manufactured from icamba (marijuana) from Germany or from Israel but it is wrong for us to manufacture those same drugs by ourselves,” Sinkamba said.
“That confirms our suspicion that there is a lot of corruption in the procurement of drugs in Zambia. Because if there is no corruption and if people are not individually benefiting from that arrangement, then why don’t we manufacture these drugs cheaply here instead of importing them?”
He insisted that the Ministry of Health was disregarding directives from Parliament.
“What Honourable Kampyongo said was that ‘those who want to manufacture [marijuana] drugs can go ahead and register because we already have the laws’. We are not talking about anything else because the people who made those laws are not stupid, the people who said let us start manufacturing our drugs from marijuana locally are not stupid; so to say what the ministry said is like impugning even the intelligence of the people who made those laws. For someone to insinuate that the law is useless is very unfortunate,” he said.
Sinkamba said the introduction of medicinal marijuana would not stop the Ministry of Health rom importing drugs.
“Here is a very close example; in the country today we have ZAMEFA, a company which produces electric cables, but has that stopped us from importing cables from elsewhere in the world? No! So then why single out marijuana only?” wondered Sinkamba.