Malawi MPs back bid to draft bill on medical marijuana use

Several countries have decriminalised the use of cannabis, and some have legalised its use

Malawi's parliament has approved steps to draft a bill for the legalisation of marijuana for medical use, which could be ready for scrutiny as early as next week.

Deputies agreed to let independent deputy Boniface Kadzamira draw up the bill.

It would propose licensing farmers to grow the drug strictly for medicinal use, Kadzamira told AFP.

"But before it is tabled, it will go to five committees for scrutiny," he added.

He said he could have a bill drafted for examination by parliament by next Thursday.

Lucius Banda was among the deputies who welcomed the development.

"The benefits of legalising marijuana for medicinal and industrial purposes are endless for a country like Malawi, which is famed for producing a lot of marijuana which is illegally sold on the international market," he told AFP.

Several countries have decriminalised the use of cannabis, and some have legalised its use.

In October, Canada became only the second country to fully legalise the recreational use of cannabis, five years after Uruguay.

Advocates of the medical use of marijuana say it can help with a range of conditions, easing chronic pain and the symptoms of multiple sclerosis and paraplegia.