Article – The Guardian: Why is Lesotho’s cannabis boom failing to deliver the prosperity it promised?

Licences to grow are expensive and hard to come by, leaving small-time growers excluded from the economic benefits that were meant to be available to all….. Reports The Guardian

n Mapoteng, in north-western Lesotho, near the border with South Africa, on sloping landscapes that in winter are the colour of the donkeys that traverse them, cannabis grows – in hard-to-access ravines and in people’s front yards, alongside pea and spinach patches.

The plants are mostly hidden, because even though legislation in 2008 made it possible to grow cannabis for medical or scientific purposes in Lesotho, doing so without a licence from the health ministry, and for recreational use, remains illegal.

By the time the first licences were issued in 2017, Teboho Mohale* had just finished high school. Except for a police station and the Maluti Adventist hospital, which employ a handful of people, there are few job opportunities in Mapoteng. So, Mohale started planting matekoane (cannabis) to sell to local people. Five years on, he still does not have a licence and at a cost of 500,000 maloti (about £23,000), he doubts he will ever get one.

He and other Basotho people, many of whom have grown cannabis for decades, say only the elite and multinationals have benefited from the legislation that was heralded as something that would spread the economic gains among many.

In the 2019 African Cannabis Report, Lesotho’s industry was projected to be worth at least $92m (£76m) by 2023. Yet Mohale and others, whose plants take eight months to mature in open fields, say they have been left out of the booming industry.

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