In early February, Malawi police arrested about 12 Rastafarians over unlawful marijuana cultivation and possession but soon after the minority group mobilized to rescue their friends from the police.
This anecdote shows how important marijuana is for Rastafarians, who make up a minuscule of about 0.1 percent together with other Hindu, Bahai, Jewish and Sikh followers in the African country with a population of at least 19 million.
In Malawi, proponents of the green plant use the longstanding demand of the Rastafarians, who claim smoking marijuana or known colloquially ‘chamba’ is sacred and integral to their culture, to further buttress their advocacy.
Rastafarianism, considered to be an Abrahamic religion, was developed in Jamaica in the 1930s. Its followers have distinctive codes of behavior and dress, including the wearing of dreadlocks, the smoking of cannabis, the rejection of Western medicine, and adherence to a diet that excludes pork, shellfish, and milk.
“Malawi Gold” Strain
While cannabis is illegal in Malawi, it has been reported that there is a significant tourist industry, which has risen as cannabis connoisseurs seek some of the finest sativas in Africa in Malawi.
Malawi is known for the sought after “Malawi Gold” strain.
At the moment, Malawi is cultivating hemp on a trial basis, ahead of the potential legalization of the non-psychoactive cannabis strain for industrial uses such as fabric and food products, CNN reported.
Malawi experimenting with hemp is considered to be a major milestone after a lengthy battle with drug control groups and religious leaders that fiercely opposed any softening of policy.
Not far from Malawi, Zimbabwe recently became the second country after Lesotho in Africa to legalize the medical use of marijuana.
Some observers believe Malawi could possibly be next.