Move to legalise medical cannabis exports hailed | Daily News
Bill to be presented in Parliament within three months

Move to legalise medical cannabis exports hailed

The export community and the Chambers hailed the move by the government to bring in a bill to legalise the export of medical cannabis. This bill will be presented in Parliament in three months, Indigenous Medicine Promotion, Rural and Ayurvedic Hospitals Development, and Community Health State Minister Sisira Jayakody told Parliament on Tuesday.

Former Chairman Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB) and Former Chairman Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau( SLTPB) Dr. Rohantha Athukorala said, “given the foreign currency challenge, we as a country must focus and drive exports- Be it tourism, skilled labour or merchandise.”

‘We must achieve the US$ 28 billion target set. This can be only done if we have an open mind and evaluate every opportunity in the global marketplace. Medical Cannabis can be one such opportunity.’

“But, just like the import of tea and blending for re-export that was approved by the Government, we must ensure that the correct procedures are at play that it will not be exploited”

Police raid a cannabis chena      

Chairman, Mirage Hotel Colombo and Agro Nutrition Pvt. Ltd., Prabath Fonseka said that cannabis has been a medicinal plant used for centuries and now it is an export commodity and is also evident as base medicine which has a healing power as well. The global natural medicine market is a is USD 350 billion plus industry and Sri Lankan can surely take a slice from this if we move to value added exports. “in Australia too this is used as a substance to make ingredients to improve mind power.”

Secretary General National Chamber of Exporters, Shiham Marikar said that this product would be a extra high value export commodity and must be promoted ensuring that it is only used for exports with value addition. Chairman, Serendib Horticulture Technologies Pvt Ltd Dilip de Silva said: “This is a subject that has to be dealt with carefully.

There are two types that are available. One is for medicinal purposes and the other for the extraction of fiber. In medicinal varieties too there are many cultivars, out of which the most suitable cultivars should be chosen for commercial cultivation.

First and foremost what has to be done is to find the correct cultivar for commercial cultivation. This cultivar should have less than 0.3% of TetraHydroCannabinol( THC ), which is one of the two psychoactive compounds. Anything more than 0.3% will not be accepted. The other psychoactive compound in Cannabidiol ( CBD ). Most of the profits are made in the extraction of Cannabidol. This requires high investment. This is also a process that requires very high energy consumption. Though the demand for Cannabidol has increased exponentially over the years, the cost of production too has increased due to high investments, monitoring and security.’

Hence, though this could be seen as having an attractive export potential, it’s something that has to be looked at cautiously,” said De Silva. Explaining the scientific side of this, Graduate in science specialized in pharmacology and an Entrepreneur in human nutritional products, Prabashi Fonseka said, Tetrahydrocannabinol is the psychoactive constituent of cannabis. “To get the medicinal benefits we have to refine the cannabis to remove THC in a bid to avoid the psychoactive effect or euphoric effect. “This can be made into a pill or oils which are currently used for treatment of parkinson, insomnia, anxiety and epilepsy. It can also be used as a painkiller when giving Chemotherapy in cancer treatment.

Meanwhile, State Minister Sisira Jayakody said: “High quality medical cannabis can be used to treat cancer, neuro diseases and mental disorders, as a painkiller and also in the beauty culture industry. But it was banned when we were under British rule.”

A Top Cinnamon Exporter too endorsed this and said that Cannabis should be systematically grown and also exported with value addition scientifically removing the harmful component in it. It can be exported in tablet, oil and powder format and is definitely a major export generating avenue.

While some Cannabis products are FDA approved in Australia legalized medicinal cannabis are freely used in the Netherlands.

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