Malawi probes hemp to boost economy

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Severe drought and a decline in tobacco production are pushing officials to probe hemp for its potential to boost a sagging economy in Malawi in southern Africa. With hemp trials set to get underway within months, amendments to current legislation are being proposed would at least partially legalize hemp, sources say.

That could be a good sign for Malawi hemp firm Invegrow, which was the first company to begin pushing the crop in the country. Invegrow got the first license to set up hemp trials in 2015. It’s financing the trials on land provided by the government, which also assigned a researcher to the team conducting the tests.

Still, the lingering conflation of hemp and marijuana may hold back broader development as Malawi, like other African governments, relies heavily on international aid from funders such as the World Bank and the United States Agency for International Development. Malawi officials could fear those funds would be withheld if the country goes full-on for development of a hemp industry. Malawi has traditionally lumped industrial hemp with marijuana.