Pakistan celebrates historical moment as industrial cannabis and hemp use gains approval

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Pakistan is taking strides towards becoming a rival market for other global cannabis hotspots. Why? Because on September 1, the domestication and commercialization of medicinal and industrial cannabis and hemp was approved.

Confirmed in a tweet published by minister for science and technology Fawad Chaudhry, Pakistan’s cannabis law has given Jhelum-based Herbal Medicine Park the go-ahead for activities to commence.

According to Chaudhry, the “landmark decision” will propel Pakistan into the depths of the ever-evolving and highly lucrative CBD (cannabidiol) market. On a global scale, the CBD market is estimated to be worth $23.6 billion by 2025.

Cabinet has approved the first license for @MinistryofST and PCSIR [Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research] for industrial and medical use of Hemp… [The] landmark decision will place Pakistan in billions of USD CBD market,” he posted from his Twitter handle.

Government departments deliberated over Pakistan’s cannabis laws

The road leading towards a successful vote on Pakistan’s cannabis laws wasn’t without its speed bumps. Various government departments are believed to have hit loggerheads on numerous occasions as of late, with ongoing meetings being scheduled to discuss the South Asian country’s “green” motive.

“The CBD compound plays an important role in therapeutic medicine. After 2016, a breakthrough research was unveiled which prompted China to set up a cannabis research department and is now cultivating hemp on 40,000 acres, and Canada is cultivating it on 100,000 acres,” Chaudhry explained to reporters at a press conference in Islamabad.

In order to properly produce a sufficient amount of CBD, Pakistan will organize cannabis seed imports. Although plants may contain traces of the mind-altering substance tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), harvests will not be processed for the legal market unless they meet the 0.3 percent THC threshold.

Health minister believes Pakistan’s hemp market could turnover $1 billion

Within as little as three years, a whopping $1 billion valuation could be pinned on Pakistan’s hemp market. This particular segment of the cannabis market will harness a variation of elements, such as plant cultivation, medical and industrial exports, as well as production and research exports.

“Worldwide, this fibre is replacing cotton. Clothes, bags, and other textile products are being made using this plant’s fibre. This is a $25 billion market and Pakistan can take a big share in this market,” explained Chaudhry, whose ministry is seeking out the Potohar region in northern Punjab for its fertile soils and climate; an attractive combination for hemp cultivation.

“This is under government control, so further research can be done and adequate safeguards through the ministry of narcotics can be placed,” he added.

Minister Chaudhry went on to say that hemp seeds can be extracted for their potent oils. In addition to this, he is fascinated by the fact that the hemp plant’s leaves can be transformed into medicative solutions and its stems can be processed into strong cotton-replacing fibres. 

It should be noted that Pakistan’s cannabis law constitutes efforts intertwined with the science ministry’s sweeping initiative on precision agriculture. As per the details of this initiative, lawmakers are working hard to develop a range of non-traditional agriculture-focused niche projects.