A self-proclaimed teetotaller, President Mokgweetsi Masisi obviously doesn’t know how much power Stroh 80 rum packs in a single kick. Apparently, there is something else that he also knows absolutely nothing about: the difference between a popular medicinal drug that can instantly lower a spike in blood sugar and industrial hemp. The source for the latter information is the Leader of the Opposition and Selebi Phikwe West MP, Dithapelo Keorapetse.
However, if a president has to take the blame for laws that outlaw the cultivation of hemp, the finger of blame has to point at Masisi’s predecessor, Ian Khama, who had a Minister of Agriculture called Patrick Ralotsia. It was under Khama that Ralotsia granted a commercial farmer called Barend Daniel de Beer exemption to cultivate hemp for medicinal and industrial purposes. In a consequent court case, de Beer testified that he invested millions of pula in the hemp cultivation project. The case was a result of police officers having raided de Beer’s farm because he was in contravention of the Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act.
While de Beer won the case at the High Court, that decision was subsequently overturned by a three-judge panel at the Court of Appeal, not on account of the merits of the case but a technicality. The result was that cultivation of industrial hemp is still illegal in Botswana. As Keorapetse pointed out, the ironic absurdity of it all is that the consumption of products made from hemp is itself legal. He said that this is happening because the ruling Botswana Democratic Party and its leader, Masisi, think that industrial hemp and dagga are one and the same thing.
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