Gettin’ High in a Post-Genocidal State

According to the East African, Rwanda may become the first African country to legalize marijuana use for medical purposes:

In June last year, Rwanda took the initial steps in legalising marijuana strictly for medical purposes, the first country in Africa to do so.

The proposed law provides that marijuana will only be administered in health institutions to relieve pain or to treat mental problems.

Rwanda’s Minister of Health, Dr Richard Sezibera while presenting the draft law to Parliament, said that the objective of the Bill was to contribute to the protection of the population while “ensuring that drugs and psychotropic substances are exclusively available for scientific and medical purposes”.

The implications of the move in the region are potentially far-reaching. It is speculated that with the greater availability of a relatively affordable pain treatment that medical marijuana offers, Rwanda could conceivably become the hospice care capital of East Africa, in a region where specialised care and anti-pain medication for the terminally ill is often out of reach of most patients.

While it’s unlikely that Rwanda will become the epicenter for hospice care in East Africa due to this change in policy – the majority of individuals in the region don’t have the money to travel for medical care and if they do it’s unlikely that they would travel just to purchase medical marijuana – this might create a domino effect in the region. Often lauded for their economic policy and development playboy status, Rwanda’s “We’re-the-African-Singapore” bumper-stickers are widely desired by neighboring countries who tend to follow the country’s business decisions. And, given that the Rwandan health minister Dr Richard Sezibera who proposed the policy was renamed head of the East African Community earlier this week, it’s possible that there will be a growing legalization campaign in the East African block. Which is all just to say young development tourists in the region will be getting high  in Kigali and throughout the region with greater ease in the coming years.


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