Greens Party president Peter Sinkamba says the move by Coca-Cola to develop marijuana-infused beverages is a vindication that government should accept mass production of cannabis for medical purposes and develop a policy to regulate the drug.

In a statement issued by his media team, Sinkamba insisted that the policy agenda could be a game-changer to the economy and bring in the much-needed revenue for Zambia.

Reacting to a BBC news that the Coca- Cola drinks giant is in serious talks with a Canadian local cannabis producer Aurora Cannabis about developing marijuana-infused beverages aimed at not intoxicating consumers but to relieve pain, Mr. Sinkamba said time had come for all doubting Thomas’s to simply accept that cannabis is safe medicine.

“Green Party President Peter Sinkamba is extremely happy that Coca-Cola, which is best known for its eponymous caffeine-based Coca-Cola drink, has decided to experiment with a different drug: cannabis,” read the Greens statement.

“Along with many others in the beverage industry, we are closely watching the growth of non-psychoactive cannabidiol as an ingredient in functional wellness beverages around the world,” Coca-Cola is reported to have said in a statement. ‘It’s going to be more of the ‘recovery drink’ category,’ the source told the BBC,” read the statement.

“Cannabidiol, a constituent of cannabis, can help ease inflammation, pain and cramping, but has no psychoactive effect. The move by Coca-Cola comes at a time when Canada prepares to follow certain US states in legalising cannabis for recreational use, after years of permitting it for medicinal purposes. Legalizing cannabis has given rise to a large cannabis growing industry and some high-profile partnerships. Earlier this year, beer giant Molson Coors Brewing said it would make cannabis-infused drinks with Hydro pothecary, while Corona-beer maker Constellation Brands invested $4bn more into a cannabis firm Canopy Growth. A partnership between Coke and Aurora would mark the first entry of a major manufacturer of non-alcoholic drinks into the market. Coca-Cola’s shares rose marginally in early trade yesterday.”

Sinkamba said doubters had not taken his cannabis policy seriously since he announced it five years ago but that now they had to make serious adjustments.

“And the Green Party leader says he is now vindicated on the question of mass production of cannabis for medical purposes. “Doubting Thomas’s have never taken our medical cannabis policy seriously since we announced it five years ago. This policy is for real. It is the only policy agenda at the moment which undoubtedly can be a game-changer in our economy. It is a multi- billion-dollar business only second to smart phones,” he said. And Mr. Sinkamba has disclosed that he is in talks with Finance Minister Margret Mwanakatwe to embark on his pilot project for medical cannabis. He hopes that the talks will materialize so that he proves the point that the cannabis business can be a game-changer even here in Zambia. ‘You see, if we had embarked on this agenda in 2013 when I announced it, Zambia would have been same today,” read the statement.

“We would have been a very rich country by now. Nonetheless, I am holding talks with the Finance Minister. I hope that talks materialize. I want to prove the doubting Thomas’s that this business can be a game-changer even here in Zambia,’ he said. ‘We have also been talking to DEC on developing medical-grade cannabis seed though stalled due to on-going litigation issues. We informed DEC of our planned for export of seed stock under an import seed license of our partner based abroad, to enter their research programme so that they can examine the terpenes and cannabinoid profiles of strains from Zambia for medical-grade cannabis. This may well provide a support to our country’s progression in commercialisation, but also an idea to jump start the medical-grade seed stock the nation will require in the future. Our plan is to leaders in medical-grade cannabis in SADC and the rest of the world because of our comparative and absolute advantages.”