Updated on January 28, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Cannabis was used historically by Zambian tribal medicine men to heal their people. But since the establishment of the Republic of Zambia, the use, cultivation and sale of cannabis have all been illegal. Medical marijuana came to the forefront of public attention in February 2017, when the Minister of Home Affairs, Steven Kampyongo, announced that the country’s narcotics laws had a provision that allowed for the cultivation of medical marijuana with special approval.
Many patients quickly anticipated the development of a medical marijuana program within the country, only to have their hopes dashed when Health Minister Dr. Chitalu Chilufya said he would not approve any licenses for the cultivation of medical marijuana, putting a halt to any current plans to introduce a medicinal cannabis program to the patients of Zambia.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Chilufya, admits there are many conditions purported to be treatable with cannabis, but he feels the medications already in circulation within the country are sufficient. He also feels medical legalization could increase the illegal use of marijuana.
However, he has recognized marijuana’s ability to treat the following conditions and symptoms:
Patients cannot obtain a medical marijuana prescription in Zambia. However, many citizens are hoping that the government, especially the Minister of Health, soon changes their stance on this issue. If and when Dr. Chilufya begins to approve cultivation licenses, he has stated the medical marijuana program would be rigorously monitored from its growth on the farm to where patients would access these medications.
It appears that those who wish to cultivate medical marijuana would have to follow these steps to obtain a license:
Since a Zambian medical marijuana program is not yet in the discussion phase, it’s uncertain how individuals would renew their medical cannabis cultivation license if Minister Chilufya were to approve them.
There is no legal protection for Zambian physicians who believe their patients should receive cannabis medications. Even if they wished to supply the plant to those in need, they would be subject to harsh penalties under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act. Many physicians hope the Minister of Health will change his stance on the medical benefits of cannabis. But until then, they have no ability to prescribe medical marijuana.
Even though Zambia has not approved medical marijuana, you can contact the Zambian Ministry of Health website if you would like more information on this issue.
Medical marijuana is becoming a global issue. Countries around the world are recognizing its medicinal benefits and changing their laws to allow the therapeutic use of the plant for patients in need. Even though the Zambian government has not yet established a medical marijuana program within the country, proponents of medicinal cannabis continue to advocate for change.
Dr. Chitalu Chilufya has said that if the science about medical marijuana grows to the point that its benefits cannot be denied, he will approve its usage within the country. Stay informed about potential changes in Zambia and beyond at MarijuanaDoctors.com. We update our information about international cannabis laws on a regular basis to give you the most current news possible.