On July 26 2015, this column published an article trying to explain what is meant by ‘industrial hemp’. A very good scientific description was put forward on the specifics of industrial hemp, which onetime MP Joe Manduwa and one Ntchisi MP proposed for legalisation.
I have been in academia lecturing for close to 12 years and this has christened in me a desire to always educate whenever I see or feel people lacking knowledge and I feel that I have or can solicit that knowledge. That’s what I was trying to do in this article. To tell people that the chamba people smoke is not the one being proposed for legalisation. I mentioned names but I know that the editor had very good reasons for removing.
But what has saddened me is that one of the prominent chiefs also has the same wrong understanding of this issue. One of the local newspapers had a story in which a Paramount Chief in the Southern Region was fuming on people who bring foreign culture in this country, which to him included the suggestion by some MPs to legalise ‘industrial hemp’. If the whole Paramount Chief fails to understand this how can he inform his subordinates?
I have never repeated an article, but for this reason alone I think this has to be repeated. I am sure my editor will remove the name of the chief but for those in advocacy please we need Information, Education and Communication (IEC) to masses on legalising Industrial Hemp. Below is part of what I presented last time if you did not read this.
Several people have joined in debate on legalising chamba, some for and some against, including Chanco students and their professor Ben Kalua, and one reggae music group which is said to have proclaimed on stage the need for legalising, not only chamba growing but even smoking.
This sentiment by this music group and one radio phone-in debate made my day and I laughed my lungs out. It clearly showed me how naïve and ignorant most Malawians are. We are a nation that jumps and comments on issues we don’t know, let alone, understand to look like we are clever. We are a people who do not want to recognise those that know and listen from them.
The fact of the matter is that the chamba which my good MPs and the Chancellor College professor supported is not the same chamba that these fellas smoke. Nooo. They are completely different. Even if the government was to legalise the growing and trading of this ‘industrial’ (repeat) hemp, the reggae musicians and the chamba revellers would not benefit because it is not the weed that they smoke during ganja time.
Facts of the matter are that ‘industrial hemp’ contains only about 0.3 percent – 1.5 percent THC (Tetrahydrocannabinoids, the intoxicating ingredients that make you high) while the marijuana you smoke contains about 5 percent – 10 percent or more of Tetrahydrocannabinoids. In order to get a buzz, one would need to smoke 10 or 12 hemp cigarettes over a very short period of time of industrial hemp.
I hope those who were supporting the legalisation of the growing of Indian hemp while salivating for marijuana now know that these are two different plant species.
It is pathetic that one radio staion carried a full debate without even sharing these simple clarifications. I hope now you know. Madam Kwataine, Malawi Health Equity Network (Mhen) has a lot of work to do here. Osamangothamangira zokalipira boma zokha. The reggae music band, chamba revellers an now the Paramount Chief need more IEC on such issues. That’s part of advocacy.