Sri Lanka will be launching its first cannabis plantation to export to the United States. The 100-hectare cannabis farm is expected to produce over 25 tonnes of cannabis every year and would ensure a regular high-quality supply for the traditional medicinal market.
According to Sri Lanka’s health minister, Rajitha Senaratne, the cannabis farm is going to be under military protection.
What prompted the decision to plant a cannabis farm?
Senaratne noted that many of the country’s Ayurvedic doctors complain about not getting good-quality marijuana, which is an essential ingredient in the preparation of their traditional medicine. To recall, medical cannabis has been technically legal in the country since 1961, when The Ayurveda Act came into existence. The ancient practice of Ayurvedic medicine dates back to 3,000 years ago, with Ayurvedic doctors originating from the Indian subcontinent.
Senaratne said that with the lack of cannabis supply, the traditional medicine market relies on hand-outs from the courts. These hand-outs are usually from seized smuggled or illegally grown cannabis. He said that by the time native doctors get their hands on marijuana, it is already four to five years old and has therefore lost its potency and medical value, rendering it ineffective in treating medical conditions.
This supply problem prompted the Sri Lankan government’s decision to launch the country’s very own cannabis cultivation program. The cannabis farm will be at Ingiriya, which is located 37 miles southeast of the capital city, Colombo. The farm will help advance a new and licensed approach to domestic cannabis trade and it will supply domestic doctors with viable medical cannabis.
And because smoking and possession of marijuana is still very much illegal and punishable in the country, there is bound to be way more than enough cannabis from the plantation to go around. This is why the surplus cannabis is seen to open up a new potential avenue for foreign cannabis trade. Sri Lanka plans to export to countries like the U.S., where there is high demand for the drug.
In short, if all goes as planned, this new and regulated cannabis cultivation program could help Sri Lanka domestically and internationally.
U.S. as main destination for surplus cannabis?
It is basically illegal to use, possess, or grow cannabis in the U.S., but individual states can decide to decriminalize the substance provided that they have full regulatory control over it. Several states have already permitted the use of cannabis for medical purposes, and in some states – including Alaska, Colorado, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon, Nevada, and Washington – cannabis is already legal both for medical and recreational uses.
However, the federal prohibition laws in the U.S. still make the production of marijuana products very difficult in the country. And cannabis entrepreneurs in the U.S. are struggling with not being able to ship their cannabis products across certain state lines. As a result of this market inefficiency, the U.S. has become a major player in the overseas cannabis trade.
Sri Lanka is confident that not only will it be able to import marijuana to the U.S., it will be able to produce better cannabis at that.
It should be noted, though, that there is no plan set in place yet as to how Sri Lanka is going to get cannabis into the U.S. Exportation of cannabis to America is still illegal as long as the federal government still considers it to be a Schedule I substance and still regulates trade.
Sri Lanka has also not yet specified which states will receive its surplus weed and it still has not outlined how it plans to compete with the existing medical marijuana industry in the U.S.