Sri Lanka Next In Line To Export Cannabis To The U.S.

Sri Lankan health authorities have authorized the country’s first-ever legal marijuana grow operation on a 100-acre farm. The farm is expected to produce 25 tons of cannabis a year and would be under the military protection, it aims to supply both the local “traditional herbal medicine” and exports to the United States.

Sri Lanka has strict penalties for possession, sale, and trafficking of illicit drugs. Possession and trafficking of less than 5 kg of cannabis are considered a minor offense and is typically punishable by fines or short sentences while possession, sale, and trafficking of larger quantities of cannabis are considered serious offenses and are punishable by fines and longer sentences.

The Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine, Rajitha Senaratne, said in an interview with AFP news that "Many ayurvedic [holistic] doctors have complained that they don't get good quality cannabis for their preparations.”

As of 2004, there are estimated 16,000 practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine. Registered Ayurvedic practitioners would obtain cannabis for use in their preparations by applying to the Ayurvedic Drugs Corporation with the details of their recipes and it is the Corporation’s responsibility to supply them with cannabis in powdered form according to requirements.

Most of the cannabis that is being used by traditional herbal medicine market comes from courts which seize illegally grown or smuggled drugs and by the time the native doctors get the cannabis, it is about four to five years old and it has lost its effectiveness and good cannabis is a vital ingredient in the preparation of traditional medicine.

Aside from supplying medicinal grade cannabis to the US, Sri Lanka will also provide hemp for industrial use.  The U.S. is the leading importer of Cannabis and Hemp. This is what happens when farmers are prohibited from cultivating a crop that textile-makers, soap-makers, and other legal enterprises need.

According to the 2014 Farm Bill approved by Congress, Industrial hemp and medical or recreational marijuana are the same species of plant. They’re all classified as cannabis sativa. The only distinction between the two is the THC content. Cannabis with below 0.3 percent THC is legally defined as hemp. Anything above that threshold is considered marijuana.


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02 Apr 2018

By Anne Kristine Aguila