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Tanzanian MP Joseph Musukuma advocates for legalization of bhang

By Wangu Kanuri November 10th, 2023 2 min read

Tanzania’s Geita MP Joseph Musukuma has advised President Samia Suluhu’s administration to consider legalizing bhang to increase the country’s revenue.

During the parliamentary sitting, the lawmaker argued that instead of destroying bhang already cultivated, the government could consider exporting it to other countries and boosting the money generated.

However, Mr Musukuma explained that he did not vouch for cultivating bhang for human consumption but for export purposes citing countries that have since benefitted from the plant.

“I’ve brought up the topic of cannabis legalization several times, not because it’s a miracle solution, but because I see its potential beyond recreational use. It’s disheartening to see law enforcement destroying cannabis crops on TV, especially when we consider the economic opportunities we’re missing out on. Let’s look at countries like Canada, Colombia, and Pakistan – despite global concerns over drug abuse, they’ve managed to turn cannabis into a significant revenue source,” he said.

Additionally, Mr Musukuma explained that if planted for exportation use then bhang would generate substantial income especially if sold to neighbouring countries. “Why should we continue to eliminate a potentially lucrative crop when we could instead regulate and limit its misuse? The destruction of these plants often broadcasted on television, seems counterproductive. If we pivot our approach, we could generate substantial income from it, especially from our neighboring countries.”

Mr Musukuma’s petition is not the first parliamentarian to push for the legalisation of bhang. In 2019, Kahama Urban MP Jumanne Kishimba urged the government to legalise bhang or marijuana for medical purposes.

He argued that other countries like Uganda, Lesotho, and Zimbabwe were minting money from the sale of the plants. However, according to the country’s Drug Control and Enforcement Act of 2015, simple possession of cannabis can lead to imprisonment for up to five years, along with additional fines.

This stringent approach is part of Tanzania’s broader crackdown on illegal drugs, with penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking illegal drugs being particularly harsh. Convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Furthermore, the laws in Tanzania encompass not only the possession but also the use, sale, transportation, and cultivation of cannabis, all of which are illegal.

The penalty for personal possession and use typically ranges from a small fine to a prison sentence of one to five years. However, offenses involving the sale of cannabis and larger quantities are treated even more seriously, potentially leading to 10 years to a life sentence in prison.