GREEN Party president Peter Sinkamba says government should expedite the process of legalising the cultivation of cannabis so that it earns some income to clear off debt.
In an interview, Sinkamba said since the Eurobond was mismanaged and corruptly used to purchase fire tenders, government can quickly earn the money back through tax on the sale of cannabis.
“In terms of the green agenda where we have indicated that we need to take serious the issue of legalising for medicinal, industrial and economic purposes, of course we have lost a lot of time to have made money once this is legalised. But we have been delaying to implement this programme. And you know we started advocating for this programme, legalisation of cannabis in 2013, and this is almost eight years later. And we would have made a lot of money by now such that this issue of credit wouldn’t have been a huge issue. But government has been very sluggish,” Sinkamba said.
“And when you look at the economic situation now where we have defaulted on the Eurobond, and we risk the national assets being seized, and we also risk investors shying away from Zambia as an investment destination choice, they have made a lot of pronouncements regarding the matter that they would want to adopt this Green Party agenda. But the pace at which they are moving [is not] encouraging because if they had been very serious, we should have used this very farming season as the beginning of the programme. But unfortunately, up to now things are still as they have been. They can earn tax through the sale of cannabis. They know that they used $42 million USD to purchase the wrong items in fire tenders and they are in dire need of money.”
He said if properly structured, the cultivation of marijuana could bring in about $36 billion per year which he said would be enough money to sort out all the debts.
“And what we have said is that if it is properly structured, this programme can bring in not less than $36 billion per year. And that will be sufficient money enough to sort out our own problems. They haven’t taken the necessary steps to quickly take advantage of this, and we don’t know whether they are now with the bill. Our appeal to them is that the scenario in which we have ourselves where we have defaulted on loans and the risks that we run of having the creditors seizing our properties abroad, there is need to prioritise this agenda and expedite it so that the country can earn an income,” said Sinkamba.
“And the beauty with this thing is that if it is well structured, it will involve small scale farmers, it will involve large scale farmers, it will involve even peasant farmers. So it’s a kind of program which can cover literally everyone in the nation. So we look forward to the speedy implementation of the agenda so that we can make a difference in the country. These are desperate time for the government and you know what they say, that desperate times call for desperate measures. This is one such measure that can help deal with your desperation. But it seems like government is taking it time with this thing. We want to urge them to take this opportunity to expedite the implementation of the legalisation of cannabis. This will greatly help the nation and everyone else especially the farmers.”