Cannabis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) presents a complex picture. It is legal for industrial, medicinal, and scientific use but remains illegal for recreational purposes.
The introduction of cannabis to the Congo region is believed to have occurred in the 1850s, brought by Swahili traders from Zanzibar. In the 1880s, the Beni Diamba (People of Cannabis) movement popularized the ritual use of cannabis in southwest Congo.
On February 27, 2021, the DRC enacted legislation to regulate operations regarding narcotics and psychotropic substances, focusing exclusively on medical purposes. This legislation includes provisions for:
- Authorizing medical health professionals to conduct research and tests on cannabis for educational purposes.
- Setting pharmaceutical requirements for the cultivation of plants considered narcotics or herbs, including cannabis.
- Stipulating that cultivation of narcotic plants is exclusively for industrial purposes.
- Requiring delineated land for the cultivation of plants containing narcotic ingredients, with any expansion subject to authorization from the Minister of Health.
Industrial and Medicinal Cannabis
The DRC’s approach to cannabis cultivation is strictly regulated. Authorization for the cultivation of crops containing narcotic substances is granted by the Minister of Health and is intended solely for industrial cultivation. The first license to cultivate and export medicinal cannabis was issued to TMIG/Instadose Pharma DRC.
Cannabis Production and Consumption
Cannabis is the only drug produced locally in the DRC, making it one of the largest producers in Africa. The production is primarily for local consumption, with smaller quantities being smuggled to France and Belgium.
The legal status of cannabis in the DRC reflects a nuanced approach, balancing between controlled medicinal and industrial use and the prohibition of recreational use. The recent legislative changes indicate a shift towards regulated medicinal use, with a focus on research and industrial applications.