Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) cleared Together Pharma, an Israeli firm to start growing marijuana in Uganda, according to a license signed by the Acting Authority Executive Director Lawrence Byensi on March 18, 2019.
UIA cleared the firm in form of an investment license. “This investment License has been issued under Section 16 of the Investment Code, 1991. The provision of the Investment Code 1991 and Guidelines and Procedures brought into effect under it shall apply,” reads the license.
According to Uganda Radio Network, the license shows that the company will operate in Uganda as Industrial Globus Uganda Ltd and has land to grow medical cannabis (marijuana) for export in Kasese, Busongora County North 079, Hima Town Council. Its shareholders include Globus Pharma Inc. based in Israel and Industrial Hemp Uganda Ltd run by former Bunyaruguru MP, Benjamin Cadet.
The company that also intends to build a marijuana oil extraction plant in Kampala indicates that its initial investment in Uganda is $5m (Shs18.7 billion).
In a February 15, 2019 letter addressed to the chief operating officer of Together Pharma,Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Kahinda Otafiire wrote: “Firstly, there is no single license given to grow hemp and medical cannabis in Uganda. The law requires that the applicant gets the necessary clearance from various ministries concerned and the National Drug Authority”.
“The government of Uganda is well aware of their operations in Kasese district and the various benefits the said project has in terms of employment to Ugandans, revenue generation, and technology transfer…,” reads Otafiire’s letter.
The letter, which came before the license was given, was intended to reassure investors in Together Pharma that the company’s planned investments in Uganda were on course.
However, Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng has said that she had never granted Together Pharma permission to start a marijuana farm in Uganda.
“I have never given such permission. Cabinet sat and said we need to do more research on this issue. The law allows only the minister of Health to approve and then other processes can go on. I have not done that,” Aceng said in an interview.
The National Drug Policy and Authority Act, 1993 provides that “No person shall, without the written consent of the Health Minister… cultivate any plant from, which a narcotic drug can be extracted”.