Government agencies are conflicted over legalising dagga in Namibia, with the national medicine regulator open to the plant's use if the law is changed.
The police are at the forefront of those opposed to legalisation; the health ministry is somewhere in-between; while the Namibia Medicines Regulatory Council (NMRC) feels there must first be an investigation to determine potential demand, and the highs and lows of how it would work.
Official discussions are already underway. Documents reviewed by The Namibian show that NMRC officials and health minister Kalumbi Shangula discussed legalising dagga at a meeting on 11 March 2019.
At that gathering, the regulator indicated a notable increase in applications to use cannabis.
Although the cultivation of cannabis for medical, industrial or recreational use is unlawful in Namibia, the Medicines and Related Substances Control Act, 2003 provides for people to apply for a licence to cultivate cannabis.
The council, however, expressed concern over the policing of cannabis cultivation facilities.
"Council will not take this issue in isolation as there is other legislation that needs to be amended if cannabis is to be legalised. Legally, if there is no collective decision, individuals can challenge that the act is not wholly implemented," the council said.
At the meeting, the NMRC told Shangula that Namibia is not ready to legalise the cultivation and usage of cannabis in the country.
According to documents seen by The Namibian, Shangula particularly wanted to know whether the extent of the demand is known.
"The chairperson of the NMRC indicated that anecdotally, there is a growing demand. [He said] clinical practice sees a significant proportion of patients who use cannabis off label for various conditions, such as anxiety, pain and some complex neurological conditions," read the minutes.
Shangula is also said to have rejected the council's request to stop all applications for cultivation licences. According to the minutes, he particularly wanted to know why the council was insisting on an embargo.
Some Namibians have looked abroad for legal access to cannabis.
The state-owned New Era newspaper last month reported that the Lesotho government has granted Namibian businessman Knowledge Katti and his Mosotho partner Thabo Ntai a 10-year licence to cultivate, manufacture and supply cannabis, in line with the kingdom's laws.
The licence, granted in 2018, also allows the company - Lecana (Pty) Ltd - to import and export the drug.
Globally, medicinal marijuana is big business.
BBC reported last year that Lesotho is aiming to make money from the booming medicinal marijuana industry - although illicit trade in the drug for recreational use is rife in the mountainous country.