Is Africa The Next Big Global Marijuana Market?

By Russ Belville

While South Africa’s parliament continues to struggle with whether to legalize dagga (marijuana) or just allow medical marijuana use, the rest of the African continent continues to produce and use cannabis at rates that rival North America.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime (UNODC) in its 2009 report, Cannabis in Africa, the “highest levels of cannabis production in the world take place on the African continent.” Granted, the report is based on cultivation data from 2005, before marijuana production became commercially legal in some of the United States, but at the time, Africa made up “roughly 25 per cent of global production of cannabis herb.” (I could not find newer global production data from UNODC by press time.)

More cannabis is seized by police in North America, but Africa is a very close second place. Behind the United States and Mexico, South Africa is the country with...

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