Cabinet appears to have approved an application to grow hemp in Tonga.

Kaniva news has sought confirmation from the Chief Secretary of Cabinet  about the decision.

A Cabinet document provided to us date October 17 appears to show Cabinet approved the application from an entity identified as ‘the Brown group,’ subject to a public consultation organised  by the Attorney General’s office.

The document does not specifically say the plant is to be grown for medical purposes.

As we reported in June, a group of lobbyists failed in an attempt to discuss the possibility of legalising marijuana for medical reasons.

Chief Secretary Edgar Cocker said at the time he was unaware of any “submission – but hemp is illegal as per the Tonga Drugs Act.”

A Ministry of Health spokesperson said Tonga was too small to allow marijuana to be used in any form.

There has been interest in growing medical marijuana in Vanuatu, but no licences had been issued yet.

The Australian Parliament has passed legislation to allow for the cultivation of marijuana for medical or scientific purposes.

There has been public concern over the legalisation of cannabis cultivation in Tonga.

Despite Deputy Prime Minister Vuna Fa’otusia explaining the difference between hemp and marijuana, some people have remained suspicious that this would lead to an easing off in the war against illicit drugs.

Hemp and cannabis

Hemp and cannabis are variants of cannabis. Cannabis contains the drug tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which gets people high. Hemp is used to make clothes, rope and other items.

In 2018 President Trump signed a Farm Bill which classified hemp as an agricultural product in the United States. Under the Bill, any cannabis plant with less then 0.3% THC is considered hemp, not marijuana.

Marijuana also contains Cannabidiol (CBD) which is legal in New Zealand. It is described as having potential therapeutic value, with little or no psychoactive properties.

The New Zealand Ministry of Health was developing a plan to enable domestic commercial cultivation and manufacture of medicinal cannabis. The plan is expected to be operational in the first quarter of 2020.

The main points

  • Cabinet net appears to have approved an application to grow hemp for medical purposes in Tonga.
  • Kaniva news has sought confirmation from the Chief Secretary of Cabinet  – about the decision.

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